Up Front and Doing Fine

Don Rigsby & Midnight Call

Hillbilly Heartache (Rebel)

By Bob Mitchell

For two decades Don Rigsby's driving mandolin and high lonesome tenor vocals have graced bluegrass stages from coast to coast. With this release, an Eastern Kentucky boy, raised on the sounds of traditional bluegrass and old time music (including those of his cousin Ricky Skaggs), displays his respect for the music he loves to play - and fans love to hear.

His professional career includes stints with J. D. Crowe, The Lonesome River Band, Longview, The Bluegrass Cardinals and Charlie Sizemore. Now, at long last, Rigsby fronts his own band, Midnight Call, and Hillbilly Heartache marks the first time he has recorded as a bandleader. Believe me, he does it right! Recognized as one of the industry's most outstanding talents, Rigsby surrounds himself with seasoned musicians who provide first-rate support. Band members include Jessie Wells on fiddle and clawhammer banjo, Dale Vanderpool on banjo, Shayne Bartley on guitar and Robert Maynard on bass.

Some of my favorite tracks include "Forked Deer," a rollicking, frolicking instrumental, the heroic tale of "Big Jim" who gave his life to save others, a sensitive cover (with some might sweet twin fiddles) of Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Waltz" and "Old Green Chevrolet," the poignant story of an old time-traveling minister passing the torch to a younger generation. Other highlights include an energetic "Redbird," and two gospel tracks: the exuberant "He Loves To Hear You Shout," and the insightful, slightly humorous, "Make God Laugh."

"Hillbilly Heartache" is a powerhouse solo debut and I look forward to the group's next recording. On a five-point scale of traditional bluegrass excellence, this release merits a five.

For more information, check out www.rebelrecords.com or www.donrigsby.com.