Mike Scott is one of those guys who has a thousand-watt smile—his album covers look like ads for dental work—and always seem to be selling something. Indeed, what he is selling is himself and his ability to do so is prodigious. There are a lot of great banjo players out there, though of course you don’t have to be great to make good music, you just have to elbow your way in front of an audience. Scott is one of those banjo players. He is a host of the television show, “Reno’s Old Time Music,” or so says his bio, though it’s kind of stretching a point—I know I’m sounding nitpicky and grumpy, but Ronnie Reno is the host, and Scott plays in his band. It’s just another instance of him having the salesman’s gift of stretching a point.
This is a minimalist’s dream of an album. For the most part it is just Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott and a guitar or two. There are guest appearances (my favorite is John Prine singing on his own song “Paradise.”) But for the most part this is just two guys singing and strumming (and occasionally picking) together. This is front porch, late afternoon, music.
Yes! The bells toll for us! Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes created the recording session they’ve all wanted to do together and we are the beneficiaries! This recording was done knowing Mike Auldridge, battling cancer, had little time left.
Mike Auldridge’s cool, smooth style has mesmerized many a dobro player. His uncanny intonation, slick riffs and mellow tone are musical fruit. Gone now, with his death, a few days after Christmas 2012. He was born December 30, 1938. His recorded music abounds but watching him play up close was a joyful event!
In the liner notes to Standing Tall and Tough, Paul Williams notes “How amazing is it that three guys on Medicare can still be onstage performing this great American music called bluegrass?” It’s a comment, at least on the face of it, on the fact that they’re still standing, or some variant of that, and able to play remarkably well. But while he may not have intended it that way, it’s also a comment on the audience: isn’t it great that there are still so many people who want to see them up there on stage, or to hear them in recording? Williams and Crowe have been playing professionally for more than 60 years, and Lawson isn’t all that far behind them. All three got their start with Jimmy Martin, and that commonality is one of the things that has brought them together over the years.