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Various Artists

Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert – 2010 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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There are few record labels out there with the vast catalog and wide-ranging influence of Rounder, which has released classics in blues, bluegrass, folk and more. This particular package doesn't even begin to address that varied history, which is only one of its problems.

Though packaged as a document of the 40th anniversary concert last October that's airing on PBS this month (March 2010), only a portion of these performances are from that show - Minnie Driver, Irma Thomas, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, and Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas. The Steve Martin cuts are from the previous night at the Ryman, Krauss' song with Robert Plant comes from their Crossroads VH-1 special, and Madeline Peyroux's contributions come from recordings of her own 2009 tour. So, to call this a 'concert' is stretching the truth.

There are some good performances here - Krauss' cuts with Union Station are gorgeous, and Bela Fleck turns in standout tunes with both Abigail Washburn of Uncle Earl and with Union Station bandmate Jerry Douglas. For those with even a basic working knowledge of Rounder, however, the omission of classic label artists such as Tony Rice or any blues or folk performers makes this an incomplete concert document. A complete one would probably have to be a box set, however - encore, anyone?