Tony Rice - Church Street Blues
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Church Street Blues (Craft, 2024)

Tony Rice

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

We lost guitarist Tony Rice far too soon (at only 69 in 2020), However, we can still enjoy the master's work with this vinyl reissue of 1983's "Church Street Blues" album.

Although Rice is mainly thought of as a bluegrass artist and was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2013, this album is as much folk music as it is bluegrass. Rice sings these songs with a gentle vocal tone not unlike that of John Denver. With songwriters like Bob Dylan, Jimmie Rodgers, and Tom Paxton in the writing credits, it would just have to sound at least a little bit folky. However, the speedy "The Gold Rush," credited to Bil Monroe and Byron Berline, is 2:18 of fast picking. Rice plays guitar on all of these selections and is assisted by his brother, Wyatt Rice, on four of them. Speaking of Rodgers, Rice perfectly replicates that Singing Brakeman's weary blues style on Rice's cover of Rodgers' "Any Old Time."

This is a vinyl reissue, and the sound quality of it is fantastic. MP3s just don't bring out the warmth of acoustic music the way a sturdy vinyl edition can give the music. You need such fidelity to fully appreciate Rice's playing. It's almost as though he's doing a house concert for you right in your living room.

Many of us are kicking ourselves for shedding many vinyl albums once CDs came along. If you're an acoustic music fan, Tony Rice's "Church Street Blues" is a fine place start in building back better.

CDs by Tony Rice

Church Street Blues, 2024 The Bill Monroe Collection, 2012 Night Flyer, 2008

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