Clouds Over Carolina (Rebel Records

Larry Rice

By Bob Mitchell

When you get three Rice Brothers and their uncle together with the Simpkins Brothers, you can be sure of some great bluegrass. Add two other outstanding musicians and the result is unmistakable quality and first-rate listening enjoyment. As the press release says: "Rice, Rice, Rice, Simpkins, Simpkins, Shelor, Poindexter, and Parker" has the ring of a "law firm" but it's actually a "dynamic and creative" band with a deep respect for traditional bluegrass.

A longtime fan will be familiar with many of the selections but he or she won't mind hearing them because of the remarkable arrangements. Besides, you gotta love artwork featuring Larry in a Kentucky Derby T-shirt and a release that includes a cover for Arthur Hancock's "Sunday Silence." (Hancock's project of the same name was reviewed in August 2001. The song is a tribute to his horse, which won the 1989 Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeder's Cup.)

Larry and his musical compatriots blend their talents to produce a well-paced recording. Some of the highlights include a melancholy cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Rainy Day People," featuring the twin guitars of bothers Tony and Wyatt. Then there's the exquisite harmony on "Never Meant To Be" and Sammy Shelor's inventive banjo on "We Live In Two Different Worlds" and "You're Not A Drop In The Bucket."

Uncle Frank Poindexter's Dobro work and Rickie Simpkins' fiddle on the title cut are outstanding as are Tony Rice's lead and rhythm guitar on his original "Never Meant To Be" and on Larry's original "Don't Be Careful What You Wish For".

Wyatt Rice's lead and rhythm guitar, especially on "Freight Train" and "Little Maggie," is splendid, while Larry's mandolin and lead vocals on the Fred Rose classic, "We Live In Two Different Worlds," and a supercharged original instrumental "Burnt Rice" (with twin guitars of Tony and Wyatt) also make the list.

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