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Tony Ellis

Sounds Like Bluegrass to Me – 1999 (Copper Creek)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Tony Ellis

One of the magical qualities of bluegrass is its faithfulness to its roots: it has room for something new without throwing away what people still love. Tony Ellis' music is pure bluegrass, played with Dudley Connell, Tom Gray and Lester Woodie, who have been in the business almost forever.

Their selections cover a range from traditional numbers ("Turkey in the Straw") to story songs ("Poor Ellen Smith") to crossovers ("Nine Pound Hammer"). They are all played in the sparse and impeccable stylings of veteran pickers - Ellis was Bill Monroe's banjoist for 2 1/2 yearsin the early '60's - with vocals that could have been lifted out of a Monroe recording.

This is no stingy selection, either, with 16 numbers plus liner notes full of the artists' histories as well as the songs'. Drop this in your CD player, kick back and close your eyes and you can almost smell the campfires at Bean Blossom as you drift from group to group, listening to the music you know and love.