Recorded over the course of 1969 and 1970, Grand Dad of the Country Pickers showcases the considerable talents of Sam McGee through exercises in gorgeous, fingerpicked parlor songs, blues guitar playing, banjo tunes, waltzes, and spirituals. Though the majority of the tracks highlight McGee's idiosyncratic instrumental skills, renditions of the nostalgic "When the Wagon Was New" and the durable and oft-repeated theme in "Penitentiary Blues," both with his colorful word-slurring singing, are standouts themselves. Traditional instrumentals like the fiddle tune "Black Mountain Rag" and the spiritual "Wayfaring Stranger" are also major highlights. With a repertoire stretching back to the early days of the 20th century, McGee was able to incorporate elements of the many forms he'd come across in his 75 years and craft a truly vibrant work, all done with a very warm and expressive style. Though more like Doc Watson than Uncle Dave Macon, with whom he performed extensively, McGee was a truly unique talent. Grand Dad of the Country Pickers is a fine introduction.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matt Fink