Tom Adams and Michael Cleveland, two fans of honest fiddle and banjo music, casually pulled together a list of their favorite traditional bluegrass tunes, borrowed a PA from the nearby Presbyterian church, and set up in the back corner of their local coffee shop. The plan was to record the show onto mini-disc, and use that recording to listen back and critique their own performance -- maybe drop a third verse, or repeat a chorus that really cooked, then erase the disc and record the next show. Upon hearing the results of this loose live recording, Adams presented it to Rounder Select and the results are available as Live at the Ragged Edge. Adams and fiddle player Cleveland are both IMBA (International Bluegrass Music Association) award winners, and on these recordings it is easy to see why. The duo rip through classics like "Shady Grove," "Cripple Creek," "Sally Goodin," and "Little Maggie," as well as a handful of Adams originals. Sure, they forget a couple of the words and zip off on a few unusual tangents, but overall, the recording honestly projects the players' love of the songs and the warm reception they get from their audience. While it is doubtful that this one-shot recording will make it into the annals of bluegrass history, fans of earnest pickin' and fiddlin' will find themselves returning to this disc over and over again.
Live at the Ragged Edge Review
by Zac Johnson