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The Larry Stephenson Band

Clinch Mountain Mystery – 2004 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by The Larry Stephenson Band

Larry Stephenson is one of the best high tenor lead singers in bluegrass today. A high tenor singing a high lonesome song epitomizes the music of Bill Monroe and Stephenson carries on that tradition. This latest CD celebrates his band's 15th anniversary, and they are in fantastic form. Bryan Sutton, guest guitarist, simply smokes the strings on his breaks, and every other musician does bluegrass music proud on these 12 songs.

With two hard driving numbers, "Dixieland For Me" and the self-penned "My Baby Back To Me" as bookends, there isn't a B-side cut to be found. Tom T. and Dixie Hall contribute the title song, a mystery of love meeting a violent end, and the story of "The Pretty Blue Dress." They make country into bluegrass ("Someone's Gotta Cry" - Jean Shepard) and reach way back for an old Raney - Glosson number, "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me." And the other selections are just as memorable.

With his clear, ringing tenor you can't imagine Larry Stephenson doing anything else than singing bluegrass and with this selection of songs he's never sung it better.