If you were to sit down and compile a list of the top contemporary bluegrass bands of the past decade, they would undoubtedly include JD Crowe and the New South, Lonesome River Band and Longview. Each of these bands not only offered exceptional musicianship and selected songs from a variety of traditional and modern sources for their material. Each band also included Don Rigsby on mandolin.
Rigsby is now fronting his own band yet the formula remains intact. The release of The Midnight Call includes songs from some of the most influential songwriters around these days: Tom T. Hall, Larry Cordle and Carl Jackson, along with their respective collaborative partners. The tunes Rigsby selected cover themes familiar to bluegrass music. There are songs of drinking, songs of loss and songs of gambling. You might not recognize Rigsby's fresh arrangement of Jimmie Rodger's Those Gambler's Blues, opening with bluesy chops on Rigsby's mandolin and Stuart Duncan's fiddle.
Rigsby is joined by some of the finest musicians in bluegrass. In addition to Duncan, one will find Glen Duncan and Vassar Clements playing fiddle, Rob McCoury, Carl Jackson and Ron Rigsby on banjo, and Jeff White and Jim Hurst on guitar. Ben Isaacs plays a solid bass throughout the entire effort.
It's a toss up what the strength of this album is. The musician ship and the compelling stories within these songs are enough to carry any album. Together, they make for required listening for lovers of fresh sounding acoustic music. Though he has moved on from the bands in which we have come to know him, it's good to hear Don Rigsby keeps on keeping on.
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