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Druha Trava & Peter Rowan

New Freedom Bell – 1999 (Compass)

Reviewed by Jonathan Colcord

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CDs by Druha Trava & Peter Rowan

Paired with former Bill Monroe Bluegrass Boy Peter Rowan, Czech bluegrass group Druha Trava mine a wide array of music styles with the CD best put into the roots category.

Band leader Robert Krestan serves up one song in his native tongue ("Kridla" or "Wings" in English), while Rowan, who does most of the singing, brings out old chestnuts for a full band treatment with "Dustbowl Children" and "Midnight Moonlight." The balance of the record features everything from ballads to all-out rockers.

Bluegrass is in the minority here. However, the initiated may notice familiar bluegrass melodies within the title track. The group features dobro, acoustic and electric guitars, drums, banjo, electric bass and lap steel. Rowan's mandola playing is wonderful on "Cold Irons Bound," a rock song with a dark, funky beat and some progressive banjo as well. An Irish feel is evident on the lead-off track "Tree of Leaf and Fire," with piper Davey Spillane guesting on low whistle. Druha Trava continues to impress.