LongviewRounder CD 11661-0434-2 Rounder Records
One Camp Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
High Lonesome is the name of the 1999 release and second album by the bluegrass group Longview. The group's self-titled first album captured the International Bluegrass Music Association's 1998 Recorded Event Of The Year award. Though known and respected for some time by the bluegrass cognoscenti, Longview's award-winning first album helped to propel the band to the fore while winning them legions of fans. It is largely because of this that Longview's follow-up release has been so eagerly anticipated.
The members of Longview consist of James King, Dudley Connell, Glen Duncan, Joe Mullins, Don Rigsby and Marshall Wilborn on vocals, guitar, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and bass respectively. While King sings lead on most of the songs, Connell, Rigsby, Mullins, and Duncan often perform vocally while delivering instrumentally.
The CD contains fourteen tracks. With the exception of the composition Ballad of Maudie Dawson, by Longview's mandolinist Don Rigsby, High Lonesome is an album of cover songs performed in a style which holds true to the real roots of bluegrass. With the growing popularity of "newgrass" and other recent developments in bluegrass music, one senses, without a doubt, that the genre's creators and pioneers like Monroe, Flatt, Scruggs, and Stanley would feel quite at home with the sounds on High Lonesome.
These fellows are all excellent musicians in the bluegrass tradition. If you are a bluegrass fan and one who is especially fond of the traditional stuff, then this album is for you. Personally, I was a little disappointed. First of all, I enjoy a good, break-down bluegrass jam session, but I didn't find any of that on High Lonesome. I understand the group's stated concept or mission (in the CD's liner notes) of desiring to pay tribute to the genre's foundations by offering traditional interpretations, but this did little for me since it was like listening to something that's been done countless times before. If I want to hear traditional bluegrass then I know how to get my hands on a few old recordings. I would have much preferred to hear something new or original in Longview's interpretations.
Be that as it may, High Lonesome is a solid album. There is nothing slipshod about the musicianship or the actual recording. Whether or not Longview will be remembered for this album in years to come remains to be seen.
Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz