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Tony Williamson

Christmas at Doobie Shea – 1997 (Doobie Shea)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Tony Williamson

This instrumental album, released on the small independent bluegrass label features 12 Christmas standards performed by Tony Williamson on mandolin, mandola, and mandocello, Michael "Diamond" Thompson on Spanish and classical acoustic guitars, and Robbie Link on standup bass. All are clearly very talented players, and they've come up with tasteful new arrangements of these classics. In fact, the disc would be the perfect background music for a Hallmark store in December - it's pretty, inoffensive, and completely devoid of personality.

The best track here is the closing number, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," with a quiet acoustic guitar melody and pretty mandolin flourishes. "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," "Winter Wonderland," and "Let It Snow" all have the requisite bounce and zip, but there's nothing distinctive about the playing.

A bluegrass version of "Blue Christmas" is, in itself, mildly interesting, but did we really need another version of the "Chipmunk Song"? All in all, pleasant enough, but nothing grabs you enough to want to hear it again.