Sammy Shelor - Leading Roll
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Leading Roll (Sugar Hill, 1997)

Sammy Shelor

Reviewed by George Hauenstein

Sammy Shelor is one of the best of the current crop of young bluegrass banjo players. He has won a number of awards, both individually and as a member of The Lonesome River Band. He is joined here by an collection of acoustic music's best, Tony Rice, Dan Tyminski, Jerry Douglas, Randy Howard, as well as LRB mates, Kenny Smith and Ronnie Bowman.

This album is a winner. Songs like the hard-driving, "Pretty Little Girl," and "North Carolina Breakdown" showcase Shelor's impeccable sense of timing, drive and clarity. Bluesman Robert Johnson's "Cross Road Blues" is a treat, as is the album's finale, "Darlin' Child." The danger of an instrumentalist's solo album is that it can sound like too much of the same thing.

That's not a problem here. Five of the 12 tracks feature vocals, including those of LRB'er, Ronnie Bowman on the country sounding, "Walls," ex-LRBer, Dan Tyminski on the hard-driving, "I'm On to You," and Junior Sisk on "Mountain Girl." Thanks to good song selection and strong performances from an all-star cast, bluegrass fans will be more than satisfied with this Shelor effort.

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