Ross Nickerson isn't just a great banjo player but a world-renowned picker, so much so that he's written an extremely well received tome Bluegrass Banjo Encyclopedia from A to Z, issued two instructional DVDs, and printed up a couple of books of tablature transcription, one covering this release, the other of a past disc, Blazing the West. Hence, you're not just looking at a cat who can pluck the bejeezus out of them thar five strings, Leroy, but someone who shows everyone else how to do it as well. That tells ya something.
More, Nickerson gathered up a quartet of gents just as spic 'n span ultra-clean and dexterous as he (you may already know them as Blue Highway), the entire fivesome barnstorming through 14 well-chosen tracks, some trad, some standards, two written by Ross. Rob Ickes on Resophonic guitar is a stand-out, but Shawn Lane (mandolin, fiddle) and Tim Stafford (guitar, vox) match him step for step with Wayne Taylor racing alongside, oft wielding a swingin' tub-thumping bass. Every inch of Let's Kick It is exactly what its title implies, true heel-kickin' Appalachian joy, unrestrained delight in zesty melodies, and swirling variations by a passel o' players determined not to let a measure go by that they can't cram full of intertwining notes.
The slightly slower numbers, such as Bill Monroe's Wheel Hoss, allow a bit more inspection of nuance and intonation, not to mention a chance to somewhat catch one's breath, but the effect is just as dazzling: pure sterling musicianship no matter how you cut it. Lordamighty but this is good stuff! Put aside the coffee and Jolt Cola before throwing it on the player, though, or you'll barely be able to contain yourself, turning somersaults, high steppin', and hollering' to beat glory. Mind and body will exult thuswise, but that doctor feller may have to give you a sedative and folks'll talk, so best to smile and do a jig in the living room. We don't want to create a ruckus, now do we?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles