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Various Artists

Bluegrass 2000 – 2000 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Jonathan Colcord

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The annual Pinecastle Bluegrass series instrumental release again features progressive and traditional material, while the new solo work from Scott Vestal is more of a collection of various moods from rock to jazz and new age with barely anything that can be classified as bluegrass. Vestal figures into both recordings as banjo player. The bluegrass release finds Jeff Autry on guitar, Wayne Benson on mandolin, Randy Kohrs on resophonic guitar, Mark Schatz on bass and Ron Stewart on fiddle.

Highlights include a tribute to banjo legend J.D. Crowe with "As The Crowe Flies," a version of Josh Graves' "Foggy Mountain Rock," and a speedy "John Henry." Progressive moments include Tony Rice's "Swing 51," "Westward," and "Surge," a tune that may go back to Vestal and Benson's days with the group Livewire. All these musicians, for the uninitiated are at the top of their respective games. Benson possesses the unique ability to play in a variety of styles including the traditional style of Bill Monroe. Kohrs is easily in the same league as Jerry Douglas or Rob Ickes, while Autry, Schatz and Stewart are all deserving or more attention.