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As blue as grass can get

22 April, 2011 10:26 PM
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Grascals guitarist-cum-vocalist Terry Eldredge and others who were lucky enough to be around in the black ‘n’ white days,it is a sitcom musical called The Andy Griffith Show,televised by CBS between 1960 and 1968. On March 29,2011,as America celebrated the 50th anniversary of the once-popular western comedy,the band came out with a tribute of its own — a down-to-the-roots bluegrass country album called Dance ‘Til Your Stockings Are Hot And Ravelin.

Featuring seven tunes that were an integral and humorous part of the show’s eight-year run and an original composition in Boy,Giraffes are Selfish,it brings alive all the characters that once caught a nation’s fancy — sensible sheriff Andy Griffith,the inept but well-meaning deputy Barney Fife,loving housekeeper Aunt Bee and every resident of the fictional-yet-unforgettable town of Mayberry.

The moment the album bursts into song with Dooley,a tune that chronicles the life and death of a bootlegger,you realise that these guys are no amateurs. They have ridden with the best in country (read Dolly Parton),and though a Grammy hasn’t come their way yet,they did get awfully close on a couple of occasions.

With Boil them cabbage down,an enhanced rendition of a popular American folk song that was earlier covered by artistes such as Woody Guthrie,the Grascals step on the gas — strumming ruthlessly onto their fiddles and mandolins to take the tempo up by a significant notch. Stay all night ,a swing dance tune written by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan,keeps the dance mood going with its nonsensical-yet-catchy descriptions of slop buckets falling from the window to donkeys getting sick on ice cream.

While Leaning on the everlasting arms,a hymn dating back to 1888,takes the album in a more spiritual tangent,Ol’ Joe Clark remains content with being the only track that doesn’t benefit from Elredge’s crusty,Southern-accented vocals. Kristin Scott Benson’s fiddle-playing skills are overshadowed only by her charming presence in the videos and everybody — from upright bassist Terry Smith to guitarist Jamie Johnson —join in to lend their voices to the songs from time to time.

This album provides some classic performances in Bluegrass,and if it’s a genre you like,the album could be just what you have been waiting for.


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