Jim Mills

My Dixie Home

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In the post-millennium, bluegrass players are categorized as progressive, retro, or contemporary (which is somewhere in between). A few players, however, play traditional bluegrass without self-consciousness. A veteran of Ricky Skaggs' Kentucky Thunder, Jim Mills plays the music of Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt with an honesty that reveals a natural inclination. My Dixie Home kicks off with a charged-up version of the title track featuring Skaggs' lead vocal and mandolin work. "Take the D Train" follows, and is one of several instrumental tracks that allows banjoist Mills and fiddler Stuart Duncan to show why their picking skills are in such demand. There are guest vocals by Tim O'Brien, Dan Tyminski, and Paul Brewster and additional instrumental support from bassist Barry Bales and mandolinist Adam Steffey. There's no grandstanding, despite the all-star guest list. And since Mills' approach is so straightforward, the material forms a unified album despite the multiple vocalists. There are a number of points of special interest. O'Brien provides a fine backwoods vocal on Dock Boggs' "Country Blues," while Brewster delivers a good version of Jimmy Skinner's "Will You Be Satisfied." The album ends with the spunky "I'll See You in My Dreams," an instrumental that gives Mills a chance to show off his guitar playing. My Dixie Home has an abundance of good picking and singing, and traditional bluegrass fans will not want to miss it.

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