Published in Bluegrass Unlimited, September 2002. Used with permission.

Bluegrass Intentions

Old As Dirt

Native and Fine Records 906-4

Somewhere in the wide range of traditional music is a borderland between bluegrass and old-time, a sort of demilitarized zone. Bluegrass fans, many of them anyway, just tolerate old-time music – without much enthusiasm but out of respect for the crucial role it played as the pre-cursor of Monroe’s invention. Few bands dare wander into that DMZ, and fewer still manage to do it successfully. The Bluegrass Intentions, well-known West Coast musicians all, have managed to pull it off admirably. The bluegrass sounds like bluegrass, the old-timey sounds the way it should. The songs are old, but fresh and lively, even as some of the vocals retain that just-barely-on-pitch, old-timey edge. There’s drive, hot licks and harmonies – in short, something for everyone.

Bill Evans on banjo, Suzy Thompson on fiddle, Eric Thompson on mandolin, Alan Senauke on guitar and Larry Cohea on bass romp through this collection of thirteen songs that probably are as old as dirt – Poor Ellen Smith, Bring Back My Blue-Eyed Boy, Girl On The Greenbrier Shore – but they manage sneak in some “modern” tunes from the 50s and 60s – most notably Burn Another Honky-Tonk Down, which George Jones recorded many years ago. It’s not quite Old As Dirt but like everything on this recording, it’s definitely both native and fine.

Native and Fine Records; 1185 Soland Ave, PMB #157; Albany, CA 94706-2233; Web:

Archie Warnock, [email]

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