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J.D. Crowe

Bluegrass Holiday – 2007 (Rebel)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by J.D. Crowe

What a trip down memory lane! This J. D. Crowe reissue takes you back to when it began in 1968 (with 4 bonus tracks previously only available as King Bluegrass Records singles). Crowe was a veteran of the Sunny Mountain Boys, but played close to home (Lexington, Ky.) for several years after leaving Jimmy Martin. Bobby Slone and Doyle Lawson joined with Crowe, playing music at night at the Red Slipper Lounge and working "real" jobs during the day. Then, Red Allen joined them, and fans clamored for a recording. According to Frank Godbey's liner notes, this was a two-day quickie. Crowe had some misgivings, but the record helped catapult him onto the circuit where he's been a fixture for almost four decades.

The song selection came from their nightly sets. Numbers now considered traditional on stage and around festival campfires include "Little Bessie," "Down Where the River Bends," "Dark Hollow" and "Train 45." "Philadelphia Lawyer" and "Orange Blossom Special" were crowd pleasers, and there's also the Crowe standard "Black Jack."

The original masters have been reworked, but there's no missing the vintage sound. Allen sings lead with Crowe and Lawson providing harmony. The instrumental work is excellent: listen to Crowe and Lawson flawlessly tear into "Train 45" at breakneck speed.

Close your eyes, settle into your seat at the Red Slipper Lounge, and enjoy bluegrass the way bluegrass should sound.