CRARY, EVANS & BARNICK
Native and Fine Records
These three veteran musicians bring a sophisticated program of Americana and bluegrass imbued with a warmth that is welcoming and winsome. It’s hard to believe that Dan Crary is 80 when you hear this recording. His voice and musicianship are as sharp and clear as ever. Jimmy Martin’s “20/20 Vision” has been covered before and is a fine vehicle for reinterpretation. Here, they marry it up with “Clinch Mountain Backstep” to very good end. “Crazy Creek” captures all of the adventure one would want and shows off Crary’s prowess on the 12-string guitar. As he does throughout, Bill Evans captures the right banjo sound and licks for each piece. His tune “Winston’s Jig” is as fine example of 6/8 fingerpicking banjo as there is out there. It’s paired with their setting of “Rattlin’ Roarin’ Willie” to make for a hearty Celtic-infused medley.
Wally Barnick’s fine vocals and steady bass add greatly to the project’s success, as his singing on “Sonny’s Dream” demonstrates so well. The singing throughout this project is strong. Their harmonies are always spot-on and fill out the arrangements nicely. The material draws as much from contemporary sources as from the classic repertory of bluegrass with pieces written by Steve Young, John Hiatt, and Joe Ely included here.
Two guests appear on the project. Kenny Blackwell plays mandolin on four tracks and Martin Stevens adds his fiddle and mandolin on “Sonny’s Dream.” The trio has an interesting take on bluegrass with one foot in the several traditions and the other foot drawing from the contemporary musics around them. The masterful musicianship, both instrumentally and vocally, lift this to a music that is beyond ordinary and is very entertaining. (www.billevansbanjo.com)RCB