With Chambergrass: A Decade of Tunes From the Edges of Bluegrass, Sugar Hill Records collects a decade of Berline + Crary + Hickman's instrumentals. These are songs from the edges of bluegrass -- delicate and intricate numbers that explore the textures that can be created with fiddle, banjo, and guitar and an eye toward normally excluded genres like jazz, pop, and rock. Call it progressive bluegrass. Byron Berline, for one, played fiddle as a session musician for the original alternative country Cosmic American, Gram Parsons, and his musical repartee with banjo player John Hickman and guitarist Dan Crary -- as well as the trio's gift for experimentation -- is fully evident in this collection. Whether on reworked traditionals ("Forked Deer"), subtle live outtakes (Berline's autumnal "Fall Creek"), or stunning originals (Berline's frantic "Pistol Pete," Crary's quiet and starry "Night Run"), Berline + Crary + Hickman played wonderfully with chord changes, harmony, Crary's innovative rhythmic guitar, and the counterpoint of fiddle and banjo. Berline + Crary + Hickman were equally lauded and derided by bluegrass fans during their '70s and '80s heyday, a telltale sign that they're something worth listening to.
AllMusic Review by Charles Spano