Never Too Late For Christmas

Smoky Mountain Christmas: A Bluegrass Holiday (Rural Rhythm)
Raymond Fairchild

By Bob Mitchell

The CD arrived three days before the paper's deadline for submitting a review, but it is from Raymond Fairchild, so it deserved several hearings. I'm glad I listened because "The King of the Smoky Mountain Banjo Players" lives up to his reputation in a delightful recording for the season. It is not flashy, but it is honest-to-gosh-down-home music. The release has the feel of an old fashioned Christmas day in front of a soothing fireplace and a cup of hot chocolate.

Eighteen of your favorite holiday instrumentals showcase the nimble fingers of one of the industry's most respected banjoists. Additional musical support comes from Bruce Moody on guitar, Walter Crowe on bass and rhythm guitar, Avril Freeman on fiddle and Cody Shuler on mandolin.

Some of my favorite tracks include a playful "Up On The House Top," the beautiful "Star of Bethlehem," and "Silent Night," a lively "Joy To The World," the ever-popular "Silver Bells," and "Deck The Halls," and a perennial much loved "Jingle Bells."

On a scale of excellence with five Christmas trees representing superiority, this project merits five trees in a snow-covered field. Fairchild's approach is so pleasing you may find your self-playing this CD long after the holidays end. Just in time for a Christmas stocking stuffer.

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