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Money to Ride the Train (Copper Creek)

Gary Brewer & The Kentucky Ramblers

This latest release may be their best. It has something for everyone. The Ramblers have a lot of talent to share and this configuration has been together for two years. Their arrangements are tight and tasteful . . . a joy to the ear.

Gary's guitar and two-finger banjo playing is exceptional. In fact, Bill Monroe has asked Gary to play guitar on a forthcoming album? Pretty exciting stuff, yes sir!

Ron Stewart is a bluegrass song's best friend. His extraordinary fiddle and five-string banjo make anything sound better. A solid rhythmic foundation is set by the steady bass line of Dale "Punch" Taylor and a wonderful mandolin chop from Bill Colwell. Bill also enriches many a tune with tasteful and, sometimes, sassy solos.

Do you like the traditional bluegrass sound? "These Old Prison Bars" is a soulful rendition of a seldom-heard Larry Sparks song. You'll cry in your Dixie cup.

"Walking in the Parlor" showcases the old-time fiddle and banjo sound that gave birth to country and bluegrass music. I'll bet you can't sit still when Dale Taylor jumps in with that 1956 Kay Swingmaster upright bass.

Do you like gospel? Last year the Ramblers' album Crossing Jordan was number three on the national bluegrass charts. And, when you hear "Once In Stillness," you will know why. In my opinion, you will not hear a finer a cappella gospel song anywhere. This cut alone is worth the price of the album.

Would you rather have humor? "Sally-O" is an original, upbeat, and offbeat tune about a milk cow. "Cindy In the Summertime" is an old-time toe-tapper which features the two-finger style of banjo playing passed down to Gary from his grandfather.

How about something a little different? "Looking Out My Back Door" is a Creedence Clearwater Revival song that has been transformed into an interesting and grassy tune. What will these guys think of next?

A personal favorite is "Yearning." Gary learned this tune from his dad and he does it proud. The instrumental ending is a real treat.

Like a waltz? "Jesus Will Guide Me" and "Last Love Letter" are simply beautiful.

"Money to Ride the Train" and "The Rain is Coming Down" are original compositions that feel like old friends at first hearing.

Finally, "Stay a Little Longer" is an up-tempo melody in which Gary says, " ... don't see why you don't stay a little longer ...." By golly, I think I will. See y'all later. I'm going to listen to my CD again.

Bob Mitchell is a guitar player, music lover and nationally known speaker.

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