Various Artists - Celebration of Life: Musicians Against Childhood Cancer
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Celebration of Life: Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (Skaggs Family, 2006)

Various Artists

Reviewed by J.P. Tausig

It's rare to find a live album that has great songs end to end, but here is one that has it all. Bluegrass, country, gospel, ballads and waltzes - this two-disc set covers some great music. There are even several a capella songs with great harmonies. And the artists read like a who's who in acoustic music.

Recorded at the event of the same name in Columbus, Ohio between 2000 and 2005, this set has several well know groups like Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Cherryholmes and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. But the best parts are the songs throughout the album that are performed by musicians from different groups, like "Freeborn Man" by Dan Tyminski, Doyle Lawson, Tony Rice and Béla Fleck.

Some songs go beyond bluegrass and country like "Street of Chicago" by Karl Shiflett and the Big Country Show and "Ready for the Times to Get Better" by Alecia Nugent. "Bed by the Window" by the James King Band is a very moving ballad that makes you listen and think.

A few tracks were a little jarring because the whole group sounded a bit below pitch. But that just adds to the live feel of the album.

This set won the IMBA Award for Album of the Year, and it is well deserved. This album has some great songs for acoustic music fans. And as a bonus, buying it helps fight childhood cancer.

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