John McEuen

Round Trip: Live in L.A.

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This delightful live recording finds John McEuen (former leader of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) onstage in his hometown, obviously completely at ease and spinning out a long program of tunes both standard ("I Am a Pilgrim," "Sheik of Araby") and original ("Good Old Boys Texas," "Night Flight"). The focus is on instrumentals, with McEuen taking the lead on guitar and banjo, but he also sings a few (including the inevitable "Mr. Bojangles") in his agreeably undistinguished voice. Surprises include a very attractive banjo arrangement of an old Muzio Clementi piano etude and a boot-stomping version of "Kiss" that probably makes the diminutive purple artist formerly known as Prince go into convulsions whenever (if ever) he hears it -- young Jonathan McEuen approximating a soul falsetto is not something you'd want to hear without a good night's rest and a fully functioning sense of humor. Best of all are the Merle Travis songs and stories; McEuen's renditions of "Cannonball Rag" and "I Am a Pilgrim" are warm and wonderful. Highly recommended.

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