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Ryan Holladay

New Kid in Town – 2005 (Skaggs Family)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Ryan Holladay

While most 12-year-olds grapple with such confounding issues as setting the dinner table and cleaning their room, Ryan Holladay's choice of chores is either pick the banjo, strum a guitar or pluck a mandolin.

Holladay may or may not know proper table-setting etiquette, but if it's dinner music that's important, this young banjo-mandolin-guitar picker truly sets the table. At just 12, Ryan already has the "prodigy" label hung on him. Leaving that debate to scholars and hardcore musicians, the rest of us can be assured this kid really can play.

He tackles some pretty heady material, from fellow prodigy Chris Thile's "Shadow Ridge" to the J.D. Crowe-Doyle Lawson tune "Blackjack." Holladay picks up banjo-guitar-mandolin on most of the 12 tracks, adding a guitar solo here, a banjo lick there and also sings on a couple more cuts.

Cute? Well, yeah, of course. Any kid with musical aspirations deserves support, applause and a friendly smile. But this is serious music. And hopefully Holladay will keep delivering these musical treasures long after he learns to set the dining room table.