First off, fans of Cedar Hill may be put out when they pick up their copy of By Request: A 50 Year Tradition, Volume 1. That’s because after half a century, everyone’s favorite songs are not going to be on the album. However, leader, vocalist, and mandolin player Frank Ray addresses that issue right in the liner notes: “This CD is simply Volume 1, with more sure to follow.” Ray goes on to explain that By Request is a collection of the longtime group’s most popular and most asked for tunes at live shows. Such a list, when limited by the medium, will always be deemed to have left something out.
However, there is much to like among the dozen cuts, and fans will eagerly await Volume 2. Ray’s “Journey Of Faith” and “Ice On The Timber,” as well as the group’s more recent hit, “Pearl’s Song,” are among the best, as is the classic “Echo Mountain.”
Ray is joined by banjoist/vocalist Jim Bunch; fiddler Pete Brown; bassist/vocalist Patti LaFleur; vocalist Dan Stokely; reso-guitar player Ferrell Stowe; guitarists Bobby Minner, Don Smith, and Britt McGarity. This is a must have for bluegrass listeners who enjoy good storytelling songs, an anchor of the genre. Cedar Hill has cherrypicked them almost exclusively. (www.cedarhillbluegrass.com)MKB