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Various Artists

Stelling Banjo Anthology – 2005 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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The banjo has been a central part of the bluegrass sound since Earl Scruggs' first finger rolls in Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys, and the Stelling Banjo Works in Virginia has been turning out beautiful, high quality banjos since 1974. Artists ranging from Ricky Skaggs to Ralph Stanley, the Osborne Brothers, Alison Brown, and more have played them.

This collection isn't a true anthology as it features new recordings rather than archival performances, but it does serve as a nice showcase for the various generations of Stelling banjos. The CD booklet includes large pictures of all of the vintage Stelling banjos used in this project, including Don Reno's Golden Cross banjo from 1976 and a gorgeous scrimshaw called the Bird Of Prey, with a hawk pictured on the resonator.

Geoff Stelling himself plays on two tracks here, including his own composition, "Riding The Stelling." Former Jimmy Martin sidemen Allen Munde, Chris Warner, and Bill Emerson also appear throughout the twenty-one instrumental tracks, which range from original tunes to banjo-centric arrangements of traditional numbers like, "John Henry."