Music Reviews
All-Star Bluegrass Celebration

All-Star Bluegrass Celebration

Various Artists

Sugar Hill

Bluegrass has been around for nearly as long as this country. This live compilation showcases both traditional and contemporary bluegrass artists, but somehow fails to warrant 15 songs worth of music.

The All-Star Bluegrass Celebration starts off with the barnburner “Shady Grove,” from Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. It’s a surprise that their instruments didn’t start on fire as fast as they played. After that, however, things get bad, really bad.

The problem with this compilation is that there are 15 tracks, only ten artists and most of them collaborate with one another throughout the album. Ricky Skaggs performs on five tracks, while The Del McCoury Band performs on three separate songs. That’s over half the album. And, why are there three songs featuring Patty Loveless and two with Travis Tritt, but only one with legendary banjo picker Earl Scruggs? If they wanted to celebrate bluegrass, then they should have let Scruggs play more than one song.

Granted, a lot of bluegrass legends have passed on. But if the promoters wanted to have a bluegrass celebration, they should have brought on more artists like the Steep Canyon Rangers. One artist that is still going strong is Ralph Stanley. His “O Death” is the highlight of this lackluster compilation. His weathered voice reveals a man that is wiser than most wish they could be.

Alison Krauss and Union Station turn in another flawless performance with “Let Me Touch You For Awhile.” Nickel Creek, who are one of the most talented young bands around, choose to showcase their balladry and challenge the audience not to yawn on “Seven Wonders.”

Overall, this compilation sounds more like it was quickly thrown together rather than the product of an actual celebration. With so few artists and so many tracks, it doesn’t come close to celebrating bluegrass.

All-Star Bluegrass Celebration:

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