CD Review: Tony Ellis - Sounds Like Bluegrass To Me!
Copper Creek CCCD-0174
Tracks: My Long Journey Home / Will You Be Loving Another Man / Shortenin Bread / Red Rocking Chair / Tragic Romance / The Old Cross Road / Sweet Sunny South / Turkey In The Straw / Nine Pound Hammer / Walking With You In My Dreams / My Cabin In Caroline / Cruel Willy / Poor Ellen Smith / Theres A Man Going Around Taking Names / I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow / My Homes Across The Blue Ridge Mountains.
Personnel: Tony Ellis; Lester Woodie (Stanley Bros: fiddle/vocals); Tom Gray (Country Gentlemen, Seldom Scene: Bass/vocals); Dudley Connell (Johnson Mountain Boys, Seldom Scene, Longview: guitar/vocals.
By Ivon Evans
Born in 1939, Tony Ellis sings and plays the banjo. He has had a long and varied career playing with Bill Monroe and Tommy Jarrell, among others. He plays the banjo in an Old-Timey - Bluegrassy style, and although this is a Bluegrass CD it is played mountain style, sounding more like sitting on the back porch music than the kind you hear in concert.
The sixteen tracks include three instrumentals: Shortenin Bread, Turkey in the Straw and Cruel Willy. The first named is banjo-led and the last is a fine Old-Timey fiddle tune. Turkey in the Straw was surprising in that both fiddle and banjo play throughout but the banjo doesnt take a break!
The pick of the thirteen vocals tracks are: Bill Monroes Will You Be Loving Another Man, which is modelled on Monroes version with its high pitched tenor vocal; the traditional Red Rocking Chair, based on a 1920s version of the song by Fleming Brown; Charlie Monroes Walking With You In My Dreams (although this version was inspired by The Shady Valley Boys in the 1950s); Theres A Man Going Around Taking Names, which was recorded in 1928 by The Carolina Tar Heels (though this version was learned from old time musician Tommy Thompson).
All the songs are good but my two favourites are a fine version of Grandpa Jones Tragic Romance and a brilliant version of the old murder ballad Poor Ellen Smith, which is a true story of a murder committed in 1892 - its as good as any version Ive ever heard.
This is one of those CDs where the artists sound as if they are really enjoying themselves. I have seen music described as Bluegrass Music done Mountain style and this really sums up this project. All in all a very enjoyable CD and well worth a listen.
Available from Mikes Country Music Room. 18 Hilton Ave., Aberdeen, AB24-4RE. 01224-488526
Ivon Evans, Sunderland.