Although one can usually take a title like "Traditional Bluegrass" with a grain of salt, Vern Williams means what he says. Amazingly, most of the tracks included on Traditional Bluegrass were recorded live at bluegrass festivals and live on the radio in 1982 and 1984. Amazing, because tracks like "Bald Knob, Arkansas" and "I'm On My Way Back to the Old Home" sound like they could've been recorded in 1952 and 1954. Williams and his cohorts -- guitarist Del Williams, banjoist Keith Little, fiddler Ed Neff, and bassist Kevin Thompson -- tackle several Bill Monroe songs and another by Ralph Stanley, showing where the origins of their music lie. While calling a piece like "When the Golden Leaves Begin to Fall" rough around the edges may sound like an insult, it's a compliment. This band isn't interested in ironing all of the mountain soul out of the music. Instead, their versions of "Can't You Hear Me Calling" and "Traveling the Highway Home" are filled with raw energy and emotion and hit the listener right in the gut. Few of these songs even make it to the three-minute mark, meaning the band is more interested in delivering the song than in showing off its instrumental dexterity. For anyone who appreciates undiluted mountain music, Vern Williams' Traditional Bluegrass will more than satisfy.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.