Let’s clear up one thing right from the start; this is not a bluegrass record. As the title indicates, it’s a 40th anniversary celebration, culled from four different concert events, mostly recorded at the Grand Ole Opry House in 2009. Nevertheless, it’s a highly listenable album, with several strong bluegrass tracks. Bluegrass fans will enjoy the performances by Alison Krauss, both with Robert Plant (“Rich Woman”) and Union Station, with Jerry Douglas (“Restless” and “Gravity”). In case you missed Steve Martin’s impressive bluegrass CD, The Crow, he does two numbers, “Pikin Country Turnaround” and “Saga of the Old West,” each of which should convince doubters that he’s for real. Bela Fleck has two cuts, “Keys To The Kingdom” and “Another Morning,” and he is awesome, as you might expect.
The rest of the CD is worth a listen; in particular, Minnie Driver’s singing on “Cold Dark River” and “Beloved” is a real eye-opener. Who knew, watching Good Will Hunting, that she could have such a polished, confident country-singing voice? (Isn’t she British?) Other artists include Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas, Irma Thomas (great gospel singer), Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Madeleine Peyroux (about as far from bluegrass as you can get).
Alison Krauss “Restless”
These performances and more can be seen at various times on PBS this month (and, I’m sure, when they next have a fund drive). It’s a good listen, even if the bluegrass is a small part of it.