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The Nashville Bluegrass Band

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Biography

The conventional bluegrass categories of traditional and progressive are of little help in describing the music of the Nashville Bluegrass Band. Made up of top Nashville musicians who have devoted themselves to cultivating a unique group sound rather than displaying their individual talents, the band performs classic bluegrass numbers and contemporary songs from the likes of Gillian Welch and Kate Campbell with equal ease. They have been especially noted for their close harmony singing and, almost alone among bluegrass bands, for their investigation of the African-American roots of many modern harmony styles. The four original members of the Nashville Bluegrass Band -- banjoist Alan O'Bryant, guitarist and vocalist Pat Enright, mandolinist Mike Compton, and bassist Mark Hembree -- came together as a backing band for a 1984 tour featuring country veterans Vernon Oxford and Minnie Pearl. All were veterans of the Nashville scene and had been involved with top bluegrass bands in the 1970s; Enright was a member of the progressive supergroup the Dreadful Snakes. The Nashville Bluegrass Band was signed to the Rounder label, and their debut, My Native Home, was released in 1985. Produced by Béla Fleck, the album announced its innovative leanings with its very first track, an a cappella version of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up Above My Head." My Native Home became one of several releases on which the band turned to black gospel, specifically to the virtuoso harmony sounds of the decades on either side of World War II. The all-gospel 1987 album To Be His Child included several pieces of African-American origin, and in 1991 the Nashville Bluegrass Band released an entire album, Home of the Blues, that featured the Fairfield Four as guest vocalists. Such a project was unheard-of in the virtually all-white world of bluegrass, but it made the Nashville Bluegrass Band into a major touring attraction well beyond the usual festival circuit. Sometimes sharing the stage with the Fairfield Four, they appeared in major U.S. folk venues and became the first bluegrass band to perform in the People's Republic of China. They performed in nearly 20 countries on five continents. The band experienced several changes in membership: Hembree was replaced by Gene Libbea and Compton by Roland White, and fiddle stalwart Stuart Duncan appeared on every album beginning with 1986's Idletime. Still, they maintained a consistent sound and experienced strong success over a series of albums in the late '80s and much of the 1990s. They moved to the Sugar Hill label with 1988's New Moon Rising (which featured Peter Rowan and Maura O'Connell), and worked mostly with Jerry Douglas as producer in the '90s. After the Grammy-nominated 1998 album American Beauty, the group seemed ready to wind up a stellar career as Libbea and White departed for other projects. But the Nashville Bluegrass Band got a second wind after Enright became one of the voices of the Soggy Bottom Boys, the fictional old-time singing trio led onscreen by George Clooney in the unlikely hit film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (the others were Dan Tyminski and Harley Allen). Compton and Duncan also appeared on the film's soundtrack, and Compton began performing as part of the Down from the Mountain band that backed the variety of bluegrass headliners that appeared as part of a successful concert tour and documentary of that name. From these events emerged a reconstituted Nashville Bluegrass Band, now with bassist Dennis Crouch (a student of the group's original bassist, Mark Hembree) and Compton on mandolin once again. The group undertook major tours in 2002 and 2003. ~ James Manheim
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   You're Drifting Away
  3.   Goodnight, the Lord's Coming
  4.   The Boys Are Back in Town
  5.   Gospel Plow
  6.   Get a Transfer
  7.   Blue Train
  8.   I'm Blue I'm Lonesome
  9.   Travelin' Railroad Man Blues
  10.   Backtrackin'
  11.   Tear My Stillhouse Down
  12.   No Hiding Place
  13.   Dark as the Night, Blue as the Day
  14.   Doghouse Blues
  15.   The Johnson Boys
  16.   The Ghost of Eli Renfro
  17.   Luckiest Man Alive
  18.   I Ain't Goin' Down
  19.   Brand New Tennessee Waltz
  20.   To Be His Child
  21.   Train of Yesterday
  22.   Carroll County Blues
  23.   Red Clay Halo
  24.   Open Pit Mine
  25.   No One But My Darlin'
  26.   I Got a Date
  27.   Homeless Waltz
  28.   Father, I Stretch My Hands to Thee
  29.   Prodigal Son
  30.   My Native Home
  31.   Two Wings
  32.   Home of the Blues
  33.   New Moon Rising
  34.   On My Mind
  35.   On Again Off Again
  36.   All I Want Is You
  37.   A Child Enters Life
  38.   Roll Jordan Roll
  39.   All Alone
  40.   You Wouldn't Know Love
  41.   Weary Blues from Waitin'
  42.   We Decided to Make Jesus Our Choice
  43.   Waitin' for the Hard Times to Go
  44.   The Fool
  45.   That's All Right
  46.   Tell Me Your Love Is Still True
  47.   Slow Learner
  48.   Signs Following
  49.   Pretty Red Lips
  50.   One More Dollar
  51.   Old Devil's Dream
  52.   New Born Soul
  53.   Long Time Gone
  54.   Livin' the Blues
  55.   Last Month of the Year
  56.   I'm Rollin' Through This Unfriendly World
  57.   Hold Fast to the Right
  58.   Every Humble Knee Must Bow
  59.   Don't Let Our Love Die
  60.   Diamonds & Pearls
  61.   Connie & Buster
  62.   Boll Weevil
  63.   Blue and Lonesome
  64.   Old River Man
  65.   Rock Bottom Blues
  66.   When I Get Where I'm Goin'
  67.   Baby Blue Eyes
  68.   Biggest Liars in Town
  69.   Dog Remembers Bacon
  70.   Waltzing's for Dreamers
  71.   Old Timey Risin' Damp
  72.   Little White Washed Chimney
  73.   Almost
  74.   Garfield's Blackberry Blossom
  75.   Angeline the Baker
  76.   The New Democracy
  77.   Dark Shadows of Night
  78.   Monroebillia
  79.   Little Maggie
  80.   Mississippi River Blues
  81.   Soppin' the Gravy
  82.   Are You Afraid to Die?
  83.   Waltzin's for Dreamers
  84.   Endless Sleep
  85.   Introduction: Isaac Freeman
  86.   Big Cow in Carlisle
  87.   The First Step to Heaven
  88.   Old Daingerfield
  89.   Last Time on the Road
  90.   Kansas City Railroad Blues
  91.   Idle Time
  92.   I'll Just Keep on Lovin' You
  93.   Home
  94.   I'll Be on That Good Road Someday
  95.   Memories of You
  96.   There's a Better Way
  97.   Happy on the Mississippi Shores
  98.   Sitting On Top of the World
  99.   Blackbirds and Crows
  100.   A Moth to a Flame
  101.   Blue Cadillac
  102.   Trail of Tears
  103.   Could This Be Magic?
  104.   The Train Carryin' Jimmie Rodgers Home
  105.   Meadow Green
  106.   Fiddlin' Bill
  107.   I'm Gonna Love You
  108.   That High Lonesome Sound
  109.   Cabin of Love
  110.   Crossing the Cumberlands
  111.   Holiday Pickin'
  112.   Doorstep of Trouble
  113.   Hard Times (Come Again No More)
  114.   I'll Be Rested
  115.   Big River
  116.   Blind Bartimus
  117.   Up Above My Head
  118.   One Way
  119.   Christmas Story
  120.   Down a Winding Road
  121.   Gambling Barroom Blues
  122.   Old Satan
  123.   Rockin' Chair Money
  124.   Hush (Somebody's Callin' My Name)
  125.   Just Like a Fiddle
  126.   Jesus Made the Wine
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