A Picker's Picker

Tom Adams
Adams County Banjo (Rounder)

By Bob Mitchell

Tom Adams has played with Jimmy Martin, Lynn Morris, Blue Highway and The Johnson Mountain Boys and is currently touring with Rhonda Vincent (IBMA female vocalist of the year for 2001). Needless to say, he has honed his skills and made many friends along the way. A dozen of those friends lend a hand with this recording, and in the process, they produce some mighty fine listening. The liner notes describe the project as "exquisitely crafted acoustic music," and this reviewer agrees.

Adams County Banjo is the second solo release from "the right hand man," Tom Adams, who is a picker's picker. Marshall Wilburn's bass is the rhythmic glue and Adams' banjo is the driving force for each track. This is an instrumental recording that contains the essential "T's" -- technique, tone and tenacity. Seven of the fifteen tracks are original. The result is a virtual plethora of fabulous musical innovation.

One of the most interesting cuts is "Funky Mountain Special," a playful, lighthearted arrangement filled with Scruggs quotes."Sawmill Shuffle" is a sassy track with an old time feel, featuring Lynn Morris. And, although it has been played many times, "John Henry" has some new twists due to the extraordinary fiddle of Ron Stewart and mandolin of Shawn Lane. Other featured performers include Stuart Duncan, Bryan Sutton, Allison Krauss, Rob Ickes and Sam Bush.