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Northern Lights/Vassar Clements: Three August Nights

Track List

>Goodbye Old Pal
>Midnight Moonlight
>John Hardy
>Hold Whatcha Got
>Dixie Breakdown
>Kinfolks in Carolina
>Northern Rail
>Wild Horses
>Got the Spirit
>Can't Buy Your Way
>Heartache Tonight
>Dueling Banjos
>T for Texas (Blue Yodel No. 1)

Album Notes

Personnel includes: Taylor Armerding (vocals, mandolin); Vassar Clements (fiddle).

Recorded live in August 1999.

Personnel: Vassar Clements (fiddle); Bill Henry (guitar, acoustic guitar); Mike Kropp (guitar, banjo).

Audio Mixer: Ken Lewis .

Recording information: First Annual Machias Folk Festival, University Of Maine (08/19/1999-08/21/1999); Historic Claremont Opera House, Claremont, NH (08/19/1999-08/21/1999); Mixed Emotions, Middleton, MA (08/19/1999-08/21/1999).

Live rock & roll albums are usually disappointing but, for some reason, live bluegrass albums are almost always better than studio ones. Three August Nights Live, which draws its material from three sets played in music halls in New Hampshire and Maine in the summer of 1999, finds the Albuquerque-based Northern Lights in fine form, perhaps a little bit ragged vocally but absolutely on fire instrumentally. Part of that fire comes from the fiddle playing of the great Vassar Clements, of course, who singlehandedly turns the hippieish faux-bluegrass of "Midnight Moonlight" into a tune worth hearing, and who actually manages to uncover previously unheard aspects of "Dueling Banjos" with his wickedly outside-the-box accompaniment lines. Major kudos also go to banjo player Mike Kropp, who slides easily between Scruggs-style and melodic banjo techniques throughout the program, and to the unbelievably fleet-fingered guitarist Bill Henry. This is the kind of band that manages to make an Eagles song ("Heartache Tonight") sound like bluegrass, though it's also the kind that will try to make the Rolling Stones sound like bluegrass and fail miserably. But the album is a definite success overall. ~ Rick Anderson


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