Live and Never Better

Round III at the MAC (CMG)
IIIrd Tyme Out

By Bob Mitchell

They say, "The third time is a charm," but when IIIrd Tyme Out is involved, you can be assured of a charmed recording. This is the band's third live concert from the Mountain Art Center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky and like the previous releases, it captures an energetic performance before an enthusiastic audience. Although there have been several changes in the group's membership, listeners will not be disappointed.

The trademark phenomenal harmonies and musicianship are still there. Russell Moore's soaring and heartfelt vocals continue to serve as the centerpiece while Steve Dilling's fresh, driving banjo and Ray Deaton's bass (and bass vocals) sustain the particular sound that has garnered seven IBMA awards as the vocal group of the year. (In fact, Moore was nominated again this past year as male vocalist of the year.)

The newest members, Justen Haynes (fiddle and vocals) and Alan Perdue (mandolin and mandola) are a perfect fit for one of the industry's finest traditional bluegrass bands. Haynes' impressive work on a medley of "Shortnin' Bread / Fire on the Mountain," and "Bobbie and Millie," demonstrate his ability to keep the band's sound intact. The same can be said for Perdue, especially, on a jaw-dropping exhibition on "John Henry," and Bela Fleck's "Crucial County Breakdown."

Other standout tracks include two poignant love songs in "John and Mary," and "Bobbie and Millie" (with the message "life is how you see it"). Moore's liner notes indicate that his voice was not at 100 percent for the concert but no one would know it after listening to his cover of Bill Monroe's "Traveling This Lonesome Road," Carter Stanley's "Think of What You've Done" or his beautiful original, "Daydreams" (a love song written for his wife).

I especially enjoyed Dilling's banjo on an exciting "Swinging a Nine Pound Hammer," and Peter Rowan's "The Moonshiner." Deaton's bass vocal work is in a class by itself. Recognized as one of the finest voices in bluegrass, he shines especially bright on two a capella tracks, "Feed Me Jesus" and "God Bless America."

When it comes to an enjoyable bluegrass listening experience, you can count on IIIrd Tyme Out for total satisfaction.

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