About the album: "This is an interesting, eventful collaboration of two influential musicians who have a great deal of experience in bluegrass music... If you like your bluegrass served up with excitement in a classic style of yesteryear, this album should find a place in your collection.” ~ Bluegrass NOW and "[James Reams, Walter Hensley & the Barons of Bluegrass] should be in every bluegrass fan’s collection... this album has it all.” ~ Pow'r Pickin' “[James Reams' singing] shows the power and passion that have earned him praise from fellow musicians and fans... he puts his heart and soul into it!... This is an important recording.” ~ Bluegrass Guide
Recorded live in the studio, this album includes two original tunes from Walt which exhibit the ingenuity, craft and pure excitement of the classic bluegrass instrumentals as well as an original song from James and his partner Tina Aridas. Along with a few traditional songs and some under-recorded gems, this album sounds like the sort of album that might have been made in those earlier days of bluegrass. What comes through to the listener is the musicians' unmistakable and unmitigated love for the music they're playing. This is the real thing.
About the artists: Walter Hensley was - and still is - one of the greatest banjo pickers ever. If there was a roster of influential and innovative banjo players, Walt would be on it. According to Bill Monroe biographer, Richard D. Smith, "Walter remains one of the terribly underrated greats of the 5-string." In the early 1990s, Walt moved to Pennsylvania and his public performances were limited to occasional festivals.
It was in the summer of 1999 that he and James Reams met at the Riverside Bluegrass Festival in New Hampshire where James was performing with his band James Reams & The Barnstormers. They talked some, listened to each other play, and hit it off. They shared a similar background, although a generation apart: both were from rural Appalachia and migrated to an urban area as young adults plus James Reams & The Barnstormers played a hard-driving style of bluegrass that Walt could relate to. In February 2002, after months of planning, Walt showed up in NYC to record. James recalls, "During the sessions, Walt was like an otter in a lake: just as nimble and performing banjo acrobatics." About James' singing, Walt was moved to say "I think bluegrass has lost a lot of its heart. The musicians are great. They sound good, but I think some of the heart has gone out of it. James puts it back in there." The group adopted the motto "Cor et Manus" (heart and hand) when creating this album - and that's what you'll hear when you take a listen.