Good News For Bluegrass Fans

On Fire (Hay Holler)
Big Country Bluegrass

By Bob Mitchell

Big Country Bluegrass is at it again and that's good news for fans of traditional bluegrass. The band, formed 20 years ago, remains virtually unchanged and that's good news too. Harmonies have tightened and musicianship has matured. Teresa Sells (rhythm guitar and vocals) and husband Tommy Sells (mandolin) continue to provide the underpinning and leadership for this energetic talented group. One of the centerpieces of this recording is Teresa's heartfelt lead vocal on "The Roses Will Bloom Again."

For 18 years, Alan Mastin has provided a solid foundation with his upright acoustic bass. And for five years Billy Hawks' fiddle and vocals have been a major element of the band's satisfying sound. He shines brightest on "Down in Caroline" and "Mother's Prayer's Were Not In Vain."

The multi-talented Jeff Michael provides rhythm and lead guitar as well as fiddle and vocals. Other highlights are his vocal cover for the Louvin Brothers' "Let Her Go God Bless Her" and the first rate lead bow work on Bill Monroe's "Tallahassee." Jeff also wrote four original tracks, a straight-ahead "Cold Rain," an up-tempo "Memories," along with two compelling gospel songs "I Am Ready," and "When I Receive My Crown."

Newest member Ramona Michael supplies a hard-driving Scruggs-style banjo and vocals. I especially enjoyed her lead vocal and five string work in "Hickory Nut Ridge" and her original instrumental title track.

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