Grassmasters | Grassroots

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Country: Traditional Bluegrass Country: Bluegrass Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Grassroots

by Grassmasters

Traditional folk songs are the root of Bluegrass, and after all, it\'s a lot easier to start pickin\' when you\'re resting on solid ground of tried-and-true melodies.
Genre: Country: Traditional Bluegrass
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
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3:00 album only
2. Man of Constant Sorrow
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3:16 album only
3. Blue Moon of Kentucky
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2:23 album only
4. Foggy Mountain Breakdown
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1:57 album only
5. Wildwood Flower
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3:48 album only
6. Rocky Top
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2:28 album only
7. Somewhere Down Below the Mason Dixon Line
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3:27 album only
8. Orange Blossom Special
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2:55 album only
9. Salty Dog Blues
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2:00 album only
10. Before I Met You
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3:05 album only
11. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
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2:01 album only
12. Ballad of Jed Clampett
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1:41 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Bluegrass music with its characteristic fusion of country, acoustic instruments and high energy, has wound its way through contemporary Rock, Jazz, R&B and Gospel. This series is designed to come full circle. Following the folk process and its evolution, we return to the roots of those influences and play one of the most heartfelt and free form styles of American musical expression. This hand-picked group of extraordinary players has professional ties with Bill Monroe, The Everly Brothers, James Taylor and many others including regular appearances on the Grand Ol\' Opry stage. These interpretations bring home the essence of what makes music in life such a gratifying experience. This collection of songs was chosen by former member of Bill Monroe\'s band, Vic Jordan. Featuring Charlie Chadwick, David Spicher, Billy Hullett, Andrea Zonn, Tommy White, Fred Newell, Vic Jordan, with vocal appearances by Andrea Zonn & Darrin Vincent.


Reviews


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Joe Ross

Sounds unfinished
What an ambitious project from a new kid on the bluegrass block, two-year-old Synergy Entertainment in New York! The Grass Series boasts a total collection of 15 albums that tapped professional Nashville-based artists to cover music from other genres. Produced by Donald Marrow, their intent is to present rock, pop, gospel and kid’s music in an acoustic bluegrass format. I recommend starting with the “Best ‘uv Grass” 14-song sampler (just over 40 minutes) that has hand-picked favorite tracks from each album in the collection.

The “Grassmasters” hired for the session work have some impressive talent. There are also a few pickers who could’ve been more proficient in the bluegrass idiom. Tommy White (Dobro) is a master musician who appears on all 15 albums. On a majority are Billy Hullett (guitars), Tammy Rogers (fiddle, mandolin), Hoot Hester (fiddle, mandolin), Fred Newell (mandolin), Vic Jordan (banjo), Daniel O’Lannerghty or Charlie Chadwick (bass). Andrea Zonn fiddles on a third of them, and she provides some short-lived smooth vocalizing on two albums. Where there are multiple players of the same instrument or various vocalists, liner notes don’t clearly indicate who is on what cut. Every once in awhile, the moon and stars align and a few special renditions jump out at you. More often, however, the goal of producing a large volume of material in a short period of time seems to have led to problematic issues with arrangement, instrumentation, or presentation. Occasionally sounding contrived and formulaic, the music loses some of its bluegrass spirit, energy and passion.

The earlier releases (StonesGrass, BeatlesGrass, EaglesGrass and FleetwoodGrass) have no vocals. These four (as well as AeroGrass) also include Bob Mater’s drums. He’s steady, but bluegrass aficionados may want this primarily instrumental music without percussion and just let the mandolin chop the backbeat. BeatlesGrass could’ve used some stronger banjo work. Interestingly, liner notes don’t provide a credit for the banjo in the mix of the DeadGrass project. Most likely Vic Jordan, he must’ve been forgotten that day.

With the exception of the 15-song KidsGrass and 14-song Best’uvGrass, the other CDs each offer twelve selections. The albums range from a low of 28 minutes (ElvisGrass) to nearly 49 minutes (EaglesGrass). While the former includes some refrains courtesy of The Jordanaires, song arrangements are short and typically only about two minutes apiece. The latter has a number of 4- and 5-minute renditions of Eagles tunes, but there are no vocals. Where’s the happy medium that provides for thoughtful, creative arrangements with both instrumental and vocal prowess? With their slogan of “Please Keep on the Grass,” this series is worth checking out if you’re in search of passable instrumental bluegrass covers of the material. If you’re into karaoke, it’s fun to sing with bluegrass accompaniment. I commend Synergy Entertainment for realizing the market potential associated with bluegrass musicians tapping material from other genres. We can expect better and better music from them as they work out a few bugs, establish their reputation, and develop stronger credibility.

All things considered, here are a few observations on this specific album, only one in the entire 15-CD Grass Series:

** GrassRoots is only 32 minutes in length, and the renditions of the 12 classic war horses only span 2-3 minutes apiece. Many of the songs we’re used to as hard-driving vocal numbers (e.g. Rollin’ in my Sweet Baby’s Arms, Salty Dog Blues) are only given instrumental treatment. Andrea Zonn and Darrin Vincent sing a few but not near enough to make this one an unqualified success. Who wants to listen to an exhausting “Man of Constant Sorrow” without vocalizing? Without singing, the GrassRoots songs (often with tedious I-IV-V chord progressions) sound completely unfinished.

Rudy Minnaert Country Eagle The Netherlands

Awesome Bluegrass
This very good and perfect instrumental bluegrass it's I hear Bill Monroe and his Texas Playboys. I hope to hear more of you in future.
Country Eagle