Black Music Matters Festival

Benny Martin

The Big Tiger Roars Again (Part 2) – 2001 (OMS)

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

CDs by Benny Martin

Legendary fiddler, Benny Martin died in 2001, but left us a rich legacy of music. A gifted instrumentalist and entertainer, Martin¦s career spanned more than half a decade and included band stints with Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, Flatt and Scruggs, Kitty Wells, Don Reno and Hank Williams.

These sessions were recorded in 1997-98. Part 1 was released 2 years ago. This new album features 11 Martin-penned tunes, including, "Another World Ago," with vocals by Allison Krauss and "Slim Chance" with Crystal Gayle. Longtime friend and musical collaborator, John Hartford, who passed away a few months after Martin, contributes vocals on "On My Way" and "Hillman," a song they cut together about 20 years ago.

Martin¦s signing has always been an acquired taste. In spite of this, "One Way Or The Other," "Me And My Fiddle" and "Tennessee Moon" are worth a listen. His bread and butter though, was his very recognizable fiddle work. He and Ricky Skaggs rip through the bluegrass instrumental, "Two O¦Clock." He is joined by the Reno Brothers on "Five By Eight," which he wrote with their father, banjo great, Don Reno. Whether taking a big lead, or simply playing back-up, Martin¦s fiddle style is always on target.

Well known as one of country and bluegrass music¦s best fiddlers of all time, Martin was somewhat overlooked as a songwriter. This album helps to showcases his skill as a writer and reminds us that we¦ve lost one of the great talents of our time.