Old Memories: The Songs Of Bill Monroe


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    Old Memories: The Songs Of Bill Monroe McCoury Music / Relativity

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Review Text The year 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bill Monroe, the man who built the platform for the modern music genre known as bluegrass. Growing out of the Southern string band tradition, bluegrass came into being because of the advent of amplification, which allowed soloists to step to the microphone and deliver lead lines on banjo, guitar, fiddle, or mandolin and sidestep the more ragged ensemble playing of the old string bands, which had to play that way in order to carry at a house party, dance, or picnic. But Monroe did more than simply amp things up. He also created the formula and template for bluegrass by selecting which of the old traditional string band tunes to update, and then by adding several original songs to the mix as well. It was sort of a hat trick, creating a bright, fresh spin on what was old and making it new, and yet making it sound like it was all as old as the hills at the same time. And bluegrass has kept that balance between old and new, and even its jazzy and improvisational progressive wing has always tipped its hat to it. Suffice to say that Bill Monroe is the most revered and important figure in the history of bluegrass, and the many tribute albums and Monroe collections that appeared in 2011 are a clear testament to that. This set from the Del McCoury Band is one of those tributes to Monroe, but it is perhaps made a bit more than a tribute by being, in essence, a continuation of Monroe's music rather than a representation of it. Del McCoury even played in Monroe's band for a year in 1963 and 1964, and his own band has always stayed loyal to Monroe's blueprint, making McCoury perhaps the best disciple of Monroe's approach in contemporary bluegrass. McCoury kicks things off here with a joyous, 14-second dash through "Watermelon on the Vine," then visits several well-known and not so-well-known Monroe pieces (some of the songs here were never recorded by Monroe, but he would play them occasionally at live shows), including versions of "I'm Blue I'm Lonesome" (a song Monroe wrote with Hank Williams), "My Old Rose of Kentucky," "Alabama Waltz," and "Lonesome Road Blues," among others. Old memories, indeed -- but in the hands of McCoury and his band, they become not only memories but the continuation and extension of them. ~ Steve Leggett

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Watermelon on the Vine - 0:14
  2. 2. Live and Let Live - 3:46
  3. 3. Lonesome Truk Driver's Blues - 3:28
  4. 4. Brakeman's Blues - 3:40
  5. 5. Close By - 3:32
  6. 6. In Despair - 2:19
  7. 7. Girl in the Blue Velvet Band - 4:40
  8. 8. John Henry - 3:32
  9. 9. I'm Blue I'm Lonesome - 3:56
  10. 10. Used to Be - 3:31
  11. 11. Alabama Waltz - 3:54
  12. 12. Lonesome Road Blues - 3:52
  13. 13. Heavy Traffic Ahead - 3:51
  14. 14. Train 45 (Heading South) - 3:13
  15. 15. My Rose of Old Kentucky - 3:58
  16. 16. Y'All Come - 1:33

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