Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bill Harrell

This signed Bill Harrell record was a one dollar yard sale find and it offers a fine opportunity to hear Mike Auldridge (featured in a lengthy post last week) in a more traditional bluegrass setting. For those who don’t know the music of the late Bill Harrell, he’s similar to Mac Wiseman both in terms of his relaxed singing style and his fondness for traditional mountain ballads. Though both singers have mellow voices, they played their share of hard driving bluegrass, particularly during the early part of their careers--Bill with Don Reno and the Tennessee Cut-ups and Mac with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys and Flatt & Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys. Both artists are also excellent rhythm guitar players.

You’ll notice on the cover that Bill is playing an Ovation guitar, which is a rather unusual choice for this style of music, though a few other bluegrass performers used Ovations in the late 1970s, most notably Tony Rice. Note that Bill is seated, yet is still using a guitar strap. This is because the round back of the guitar would cause it to slide down on his lap if he wasn’t using a strap to hold the guitar in place.

Along with Buzz Busby and the Country Gentlemen, Bill Harrell was one of the pioneers of the Washington, DC bluegrass scene. All of his albums are enjoyable and worth tracking down.

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