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Dan Crary

Crary & Hoppers and Their American Band – 2000 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Jonathan Colcord

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CDs by Dan Crary

As we hear many bluegrass recordings polished to a true spit-shine, along comes Dan Crary and Lonnie Hoppers. Their CD sounds as if a group of admiring friends stumbled across each other in the studio. Not that this is necessarily the case, but the arrangements seem a bit rushed, the recording mix is not well defined, and the song selection consists mostly of adopted material from a host of writers such as Lester Flatt, Merle Haggard, Don Reno and Merle Travis.

The highlight is the banjo playing of Hoppers, followed by the mandolin of John Moore and the fiddle of Jamie Haage. Crary's contribution feels somewhat out of place with his ever-evolving style of cascading flat-picked guitar sounding more classically influenced than bluegrass. An approach perfect for his solo and holiday recordings, but a bit odd here.

Nonetheless, Crary remains a master of his craft, and one of the song highlights features his vocal contribution with Jimmie Davis' "Lonesome Whistle." The result is a fun recording, not truly traditional, not truly contemporary, maybe not for the purist, but rather the casual bluegrass fan.