AL JONES, BILLY BAKER, DEE GUNTER
Baltimore, Md., with its legendary bluegrass scene beginning in the 1950s, was common territory for Al Jones, Billy Baker, and Dee Gunter at various times in their careers. Al Jones worked with Earl Taylor, Johnnie Whisnant, and eventually Frank Necessary. Billy Baker, who is still quite active, spent time with Earl Taylor, Bill Monroe, the Golden State Boys, and did two extended stretches with Del McCoury. Dee Gunter worked with Al Jones and then spent 11 years with Walter Hensley & The Dukes Of Bluegrass, followed by 10 years with Frankie Short, and time with Bill Runkle & The Square Deal. Now, Patuxent has released a pleasant tribute CD with twelve cuts featuring three bluegrass veterans from the mid-Atlantic region in what would appear to be the first recording featuring all three of these artists.
Jones and Gunter appear to be the primary vocalists here, with Baker supplying all the fiddle work. A solid backup band—Russ Hooper (resonator guitar), Mark Delaney (banjo), Carroll Swam (guitar), Tom Mindte (mandolin and vocals), and Marshall Wilborn and Stefan Custodi on bass—does a great job nailing the hardcore bluegrass sound and supporting the vocalists in a manner to which they are no doubt accustomed. Individual vocal parts are not specified, but one can safely posit that Jones and Gunter are the lead and tenor vocalists, and together they carry this release very nicely.
Highlights among the vocal numbers include Charlie Moore’s “Leaving Detroit,” Al Jones’ “Had a Dream About Mother Last Night,” Frank Necessary’s “Just A Memory,” fine versions of “Give Mother My Crown” and “Just An Old Standby,” and the Jimmy Martin/Vernon Derrick composition “Please Play The Jukebox.” Billy Baker provides solid fiddle work throughout andgets to stretch out to nice effect on “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” “Sally Ann,” and “Bill Cheatham.” Thisis a solid and well-done release showcasing the talents of these three bluegrass masters. Recommended. (Patuxent Music, P.O. Box 572, Rockville, MD 20848, www.pxrec.com.)AW