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.
Michael Barnett is a fiddler who, while young, has done a lot. He’s a prodigy, more or less, becoming a sought after teacher and session musician at a very young age. He was a member of the David Grisman Sextet, and otherwise has turned the ear of a who’s who of acoustic music. The album is packed with some of them, including Aoife O’Donovan, David Grier, Sarah Jarosz, Tim O’Brien, Noam Pikelny, Maeve Gilchrist, Chris Eldridge … anyway, there is enough talent here to make your head spin.