Telluride Bluegrass Festival – 30 Years – Rounder Records

by | Dec 3, 2005 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

Telluride Bluegrass Festival – 30 Years – Rounder Records 11661 3242-2 CD ***1/2: 

This disc is a nice music-only companion to the already-reviewed DVD of
the same title.  Two of the songs are repeated on the DVD, but the
other 11 are different tunes—some by the same bands on the DVD with a
few additional bands not previously represented.  The concert
celebrates the 30th year of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in
Colorado.  The DVD featured extensive interviews with many of the
players and onlookers, so it is worth checking out if you’re into
bluegrass/roots music. 

This disc contains a few very recognizable songs from popular music of
yore (The Righteous Brothers, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder). 
Hearing them performed in a completely different style is a bit odd,
but interesting none the less.  After hearing Kasey Chambers’ song
on the DVD (and liking it a lot) I was anxious to hear the tune on the
CD.  Her whiney, girlish voice reminds me of Cyndi Lauper, but it
is infectious—others may just find it annoying.  However, if you
can get by her voice you are sure to like the song.  It tells of
her insecurity at not being pretty enough to be played in mainstream
radio.  It’s sad, sweet, and a slice of what (I’m sure) many
talented artists who aren’t “commercial” are feeling.  The song by
Keller Williams has a Bobby McFerrin beatbox effect going on and stands
out against many of the more conventional bluegrass songs on the
disc.  Never fear as most of the songs have serious fingerpickin’
on the banjo and fiddle work that is first rate. 

I was concerned about the cover of “Unchained Melody,” but if Nickel
Creek can tackle Taxman and come out unscathed, then why not? 
Actually, the version of “Unchained Melody” is more heartfelt and
sincere than any of the other weak re-makes I’ve heard over the
years.  Another happening cover is the The String Cheese
Incident’s version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.”  This is one funky
number that does the original justice.  The music on this CD is
definitely more varied than the DVD, so some may prefer it.  The
DVD has more tracks and sticks more to the bluegrass format. 
Songs included are:  Nellie Kane by Hot Rize; Taxman by Nickel
Creek; Sweet Petunia by The Hackensaw Boys; Not Pretty Enough by Kasey
Chambers; Fishin’ in the Dark by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; Celebrate Your
Youth by Keller Williams; Molly and Tenbrooks by Sam Bush and Friends;
Cluck Old Hen by The Horse Flies; Unchained Melody by The Boomchicks
& John Cowan; Too Late Now by Yonder Mountain String Band; Another
Day by The Tim O’Brien Band; I Wish by The String Cheese Incident &
Martin Sexton; When I Die by The Waifts.

-Brian Bloom

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