A Legend Reborn

Bill Emerson and the Sweet Dixie Band (Rebel Records)
Bill Emerson and the Sweet Dixie Band

By Bob Mitchell

In a recent e-mail, Emerson said, "After being retired for a few years it's good to saddle up and start performing again. The new CD is collaboration between old friends and I wanted it to present a cross section of traditional bluegrass, gospel and acoustic country music. There is some great new talent on it, listen to Scott Linton, Con Burch and Brad Corbin. I'm sure I don't need to say anything about Paul Williams, Randy Waller or Pete Goble."

In this reviewer's opinion, Emerson has succeeded. The release showcases a living banjo legend. Emerson, a founding member of The Country Gentlemen, established himself as a banjo virtuoso while a featured artist with Jimmy Martin and as the man who introduced the now classic "Fox on the Run" to bluegrass.

Consider, also, the following: 2007 Winner IBMA for Recorded Event of the Year, 1995 Final Nominee IBMA for Album of the Year and Song of the Year,1993 Final Nominee for IBMA Recorded Event of the Year and Bluegrass Album of the Year, 1991 Final Nominee for IBMA Banjo Player of the Year and 1990 Final Nominee IBMA for Instrumental Recording of the Year. In 2000, he was inducted into the SPBGMA Preservation Hall of Greats and in 2006 he was inducted into The Washington Area Music Awards Hall of Fame.

Yes, indeed, fans of bluegrass will be pleased to know that Emerson is back in the saddle. Highlights include a soaring lead vocal from Paul Williams on the classic, "Hills of Roan County," Randy Waller's rich lead on a reverential "Beautiful," Frank Sollivan II's romp through his own "All My Rambling Days Are Through," Pete Gobel's "Fiddler's Green," and Emerson's feisty instrumental "Three Day Beard and a Rusty Jeep." The most pleasant surprise was the luscious voice of Con Burch. Her sensitive, soulful treatments of "A Little Rain" and her original "Maybe Someday" are especially noteworthy.

Emerson, also, generously shared his project with Scott Linton, Brad Corbin, Darren Beachley, Mark Newton, Wayne Taylor, Andy Ball and Gary Ferguson. Throughout the recording, however, it is Emerson's five-string work that serves as the foundation for this impressive release. His timing is perfect. His technique is flawless. And, his tone is guaranteed to provide total listening satisfaction.

On a five-point scale of excellence, this release merits a five.

For more information go to www.Rebelrecords.com.