Randy Howard was not only a fiddler's fiddler, he was a musician's musician. He was comfortable playing any style of fiddle that was called for, and lifted the sound up a notch or two whenever his fiddle came into play. He won every fiddle competition there was. He was a guy who people like Bela Fleck, David Grisman and JD Crowe called upon when there was a fiddle part to play.
Randy Howard was a mentor to folks who are now part of the bluegrass mainstream and a much sought studio player. His desire to stay close to home kept him from the road trips that are required to achieve greater fame, which surely would have been his had that been his priority. He guested on recordings of people like George Jones, Garth Brooks, Steve Wariner, Faith Hill, Rhonda Vincent and Ricky Skaggs.
In 1999, at the age of 38, after a four-year battle with cancer, Randy Howard passed away. This album is a collection of recordings made over the final three years of his life. Its amazing to hear this recording and not think of him as being better known. He takes the Dan Fogelberg classic pop song, Leader of the Band, and gives it a fresh bluegrass twist behind the vocals of Don Rigsby.
It is clear on this recording that Howard enjoyed being part of an ensemble, playing behind others. Yet the sound of his fiddle always found its way to the forefront. This album should be required listening for all aspiring fiddle players. The rest of us can listen in solely for the enjoyment of one tremendous musician.
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