Del and his boys smash one right out of the park with The Compay We Keep (Sugar Hill Records). The opening cut, a tempo- varied rendition of Mark Walton’s “Nothin’ Special” blends the high lonesome with a hint of the blues (recalling the band’s compelling take on Robert Cray’s “Smoking Gun” that appeared on its acclaimed
1996 Cold Hard Facts release).
The boys then head back up the hills for a string of pure acoustic gems, including Del’s “Never Grow Up Boy,” Larry Keel’s toe-tappin’, shine-sippin’, moon-gazin’ “Mountain Song” and a dizzying instrumental romp, “Seventh Heaven.”
The disc hits a second peak with a moving version of the Gary Nicholson-penned “Fathers and Sons,” another classic Walton number “When It Stops Hurtin’,” the wistful “When Fall’s Coming Down,” and the Del and Harley Allen collaboration “Keep Her While She’s There.”
Homespun wisdom abounds on this backcountry outing, but it doesn’t stop there as the group takes us to church with “I Never Knew Life,” a testament to the power of the man upstairs.
By the disc’s end at track 14, “Blown Away and Gone,” you might find yourself ready to testify at the nearest bluegrass festival that features Del, Ronnie, Rob, Mike and Jason. Amazing.
Telluride Bluegrass Festival: 30 Years
With all the incredible music that’s graced the stage over three decades of festivating in the box-canyon town of Telluride, it’s hard to get a truly representative slice of its musically sweet moon pie.
But if you have to try, it’s best to start by placing your cutter right in the center of the heady confection and that’s where you find Hot Rize, the group that leads off here with a classic rendition of “Nellie Kane.”
You’ll also find a tasty musical filling that includes the work of Nickel Creek, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, one-man jammer Keller Williams, Sam Bush, The Boomchicks & John Cowan, The Tim O’Brien Band, the String Cheese Incident, The Waifs and a very funky “Cluck Old Hen,” by newgrassers The Horse Flies.
Bring on the festival!