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Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show

Worries On My Mind – 2003 (Rebel)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show

A half-century ago, back in the era before the music that Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs spawned acquired the label of "bluegrass" and was still thought of as just another facet of country music, the marketing paradigm said that recordings and radio existed to supplement and promote live performances - pretty much the mirror image of today's music business. Back then, that 45 RPM record you took home was a souvenir of a memorable stage show that was promoted on your favorite radio show, and bluegrass, like much of the rest of country music, was "performance art" long before the term existed in its modern usage.

With their third Rebel release, Karl Shiflett and his band continue to travel the time warp back to that era, and ironically, though the music remains impeccable, they're still an act that's best appreciated on record after you've seen them live.

For those who haven't yet had the Big Country Show experience, there may be a tendency to hear Shiflett's recorded vocals as being almost a parody, that he's making sardonic fun of '50s-style country music, but rest assured, he's recreating a nearly-lost art form, he's completely serious (but having a good time nonetheless), and it's totally authentic.