J.T. Gray

It's About Time

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"We're not breaking any ground with this one," says J.T. Gray in the press release for his debut album, It's About Time. "We're just giving the fans exactly what they wanted." The fans to whom Gray refers are those who frequent his club, the Station Inn, in Nashville, a venue devoted to traditional bluegrass music. Many of them, it seems, said to him, "It's about time you've put together an album of your own, isn't it?," as he writes in the album's liner notes. And so he gathered together a band made up of Nashville session and backup musicians and came up with a collection of covers of songs by the Louvin Brothers, the Monroe Brothers, and even Hank Williams, played in traditional bluegrass style. One reason why it makes more sense, in artistic terms, to play such music live than to record it is that, by playing it, the musicians are keeping the music alive -- but if they record it, they are competing with the existing recordings, which they are essentially trying to copy. At best, they can only be redundant. But then, those are artistic terms. In commercial terms, it makes perfect sense for a musician/club owner to cut an album of the kind of music he and others play in his club in order to provide a souvenir for his patrons. It's About Time is reverent and accomplished, if not strictly speaking necessary. But for anyone encountering bluegrass for the first time at the Station Inn, it will provide an excellent keepsake of that exhilarating experience.

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