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Bryan Sutton Bluegrass Guitar Review

Bryan Sutton is clearly one of the most "sought-after" guitarists on the Bluegrass circuit. He's been named IBMA's guitarist of the year for 2000, 2003, 2004and 2005. Bryan quickly rose to the top echelons of Flat Pick guitarists when he joined Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder at the age of 24. Since that time, Bryan has joined forces with several bluegrass artists and has been featured on many projects, notably Mark O'Connor's 30 year Retrospective with Chris Thile on Mandolin and Byron House on Bass. Bluegrass Guitar represents his second solo venture in which he delivers sizzling bluegrass guitar rhythms joined by Dennis Crouch (bass), Tim Crouch (fiddle), Tim O'Brien (mandolin), and David Talbot (banjo and rhythm guitar)to produce this traditional mix of instrumentals influenced by the roots of old time, R&B, jazz, spiritual and country music.

This is a straight up bluegrass project which features 12 instrumental tunes of which 6 are traditional and arranged by Bryan. Bryan offers his thoughts on the selection of each of the tunes in the liner notes.

Nelia's Dance is the only song on the project that Bryan wrote. He explains it was written for Nelia Hyatt at whose home he jammed weekly and Nelia would be inspired to dance by the music. It's a delicate but uplifting dance tune that certainly would hit its mark for cloggers. My personal favorite on the project is the traditional Margaret's Waltz, a deeply-melancholy, yet romantically beautiful waltz. Storms Over the Ocean, a traditional Carter Family piece, is another sweetly melodic waltz perfect for Bryan's guitar. Be prepared for the last minute hidden pick on this one.

He does a great job of Bill Monroe's fast paced Roanoke. Bryan explains that he enjoyed the challenge of making this standard bluegrass song play out on guitar. Clearly, it demonstrates Bryan's dexterity to be able to execute at the speed of this tune. Whippersnapper is a finely crafted and complex guitar tune written by Bela Fleck. It's almost as if the tune were written for Bryan's hands to play.

Bryan sticks to the traditions on this project. It would appeal to Bluegrass traditionalists. Those who can discern a skilled, clean, and precise pick will recognize Bryan's skill as a phenomenal guitarist. He's among the top echelons because he is just that good!

Project Title:Bluegrass Guitar
Artist:Bryan Sutton
Released:2003 Sugar Hill Records
Produced by:Bryan Sutton
Recorded and mixed:Bil VernDick and assisted by Earl Drake at Quad Recording Studios
Record Label:Sugar Hill Records


Song List/Credits
Handman's Reel(Traditional)
Daley's Reel(Traditional)
The High Road(Tim Obrien, Howdy Skies Music, ASCAP)
Big Sandy River(Traditional)
Back up and Push(Benny Martin, Fiddle and Bow Music, BMI)
Margaret's Waltz(Traditional)
High Heel Shoe(Traditional)
Nelia's Dance(Bryan Sutton, Deepwood Music, BMI)
Whippersnapper(Bela Fleck, Fleck Music, BMI)
Roanoke(Bill Monroe, Bill Monroe Music, BMI)
Beaumont Rag(Traditional)
The Storms are on the Ocean(A.P. Carter, APRS, BMI)


Guest Artists
Dennis Crouch Bass
Tim Crouch Fiddle
Tim O'Brien Mandolin
David Talbot Banjo, rhythm guitar on Margaret's Waltz

The CD under review was purchased by the Folk Music editor at Merlefest.

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