Return of a Gentleman

Southern (Rural Rhythm)
Bill Emerson and Sweet Dixie

By Bob Mitchell

Bill Emerson, an original member of the Country Gentlemen, kicks off 2010 with a project destined to be one of the year's best releases. A mixture of bluegrass, country, folk and gospel tunes, many of which have never been previously recorded, showcase Emerson's phenomenal banjo talent.

Band members are Tom Adams on guitar and lead vocals, Teri Chismon on bass and vocals, and Wayne Lanham on mandolin and harmony vocals. Guests include fiddler, Frank Solivan on "I Don't Care Anymore," Janet Davis (banjo) and John Miller (lead guitar) on "Grandma's Tattoos;" and fiddler extraordinaire Rickie Simpkins on Alton Delmore's "Midnight Train." A pleasing variety of song selections were penned by highly acclaimed songwriters including Pete Goble, Vince Gill, Carl Jackson, Chris Hillman, Tim Stafford, Hazel Dickens, Lionel Cartwright and Marty Stuart.

A short list of auditory delights include an expressive "Love Reunited" and "Old Coal Town;" a feisty two-banjo instrumental, "Grandma's Tattoos," and a heartbreaking "Little Stone Lambs." In 1988, Emerson worked with Pete Goble on a project that included Goble's "Tennessee 1949" which was named IBMA song of the year. It's a satisfying experience to hear this recent collaboration on Goble's expressive song of reminiscence, "Grampa Emory's Banjo."

On a five-point scale of excellence this release merits a five. For more information on Bill Emerson and Sweet Dixie visit or go to