Black Music Matters Festival

Rhonda Vincent

Ragin' Live – 2005 (Rounder)

Reviewed by John Lupton

See it on Amazon

Some may think that live bluegrass albums are superfluous since by the nature of the instrumentation and arrangements they use, bluegrass musicians tend to be able to more faithfully reproduce on stage what they do in the studio - unlike, say, your average techno-pop, arena-rock band that relies heavily on electronics and overdubbing.

From the earliest days of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, though, stage presence and showmanship have always been a major component of the music, and live recordings of the caliber of this evening in St. Louis with one of the top draws on the circuit highlight the energy and drive that draws fans to the music in the first place.

And make no mistake about it - virtually raised onstage with her family's band from a young age, Rhonda Vincent knows better than most how to put together a riveting stage show at a level at which possibly only Del McCoury and Doyle Lawson are her current peers. From the opening piledriver chords of "Kentucky Borderline," Vincent owns the stage and the crowd, and while her physical attributes are undoubtedly a major factor in the appeal, she really is one of the most talented people in the business. And, if the live audio disc isn't enough, a DVD is available as well.