Bill Monroe was riding high at the time of this 1963 concert at Mechanics Hall, recorded by a young David Grisman (later to become a mandolin legend in his own right), though this 2004 Acoustic Disc CD marks its very first release. Joined by a phenomenal band including banjo picker Bill Keith, guitarist Del McCoury, fiddler Joe Stuart, and his longtime bassist Bessie Lee, Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys obviously pleased the audience with their mix of originals, a few country favorites, and traditional tunes. McCoury frequently sings lead, as the guitarist in Monroe's various groups often did, though the mandolinist takes his turn on occasion. Highlights include some of Monroe's best-known compositions, including "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Rawhide," and "Uncle Pen," though few of the selections exceed two-and-a-half minutes. Melissa Monroe, the leader's daughter, is a special guest on two numbers, while guitarist Mitchell Burt Lilly is added for the gospel favorite "What Would You Give in Exchange?" The sound achieved by Grisman is surprisingly good, considering that it is very unlikely that it was made at the time with the intention of commercially issuing it. Neil V. Rosenberg's detailed liner notes and the photographs made during the performance will add to the value of this CD for fans of the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden