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Tom Adams

Adams County Banjo – 2002 (Rounder)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

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CDs by Tom Adams

One of the finest five-string banjo players today, Tom Adams is familiar to bluegrass fans for his work with Jimmy Martin, Lynn Morris, Rhonda Vincent, Blue Highway, The Johnson Mt Boys and Dale Ann Bradley. His second solo album is a collection of original and cover instrumentals all showcasing his impeccable tone, sense of timing and powerful right hand.

Adams is joined by many of the best pickers in bluegrass, including Alison Krauss, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, Ron Stewart, Rob Ickes, Marshall Wilburn and Morris. Wilburn and Adams do a wonderful bass/banjo duet on "Worried Man Blues." Krauss adds some tasteful fiddle on "The Village Bear." Adams interest in Celtic music comes through on "Three Sailors From Dublin," featuring some fine single-string picking and "Lowlands of Holland," earlier recorded by Steeleye Span, featuring the bodhran and tin whistle. "Funky Mountain Special," is a tribute to the trademark Earl Scruggs' banjo licks. "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" is a straight-ahead rendition of this gospel classic, and "Brushy Creek" is a pure bluegrass instrumental, one Adams has been doing since his days with The Johnson Mt. Boys.

Instrumental albums can often go off into very esoteric directions and become almost unlistenable. Not this one. Adams' effort is challenging as well as enjoyable. He continues to expand the boundries of the banjo while remaining rooted in the familiar.