Imagine a full auditorium in mid-January- not in Bean Blossom, Ky., but Prague. The local Czech emcee approaches the microphone; his anticipation is matched by the audience: Doyle Lawson is in town! This unlikely scenario rolls out in real time (more or less) on Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver's release "Live In Prague, Czech Republic."
This collection nicely captures the state of play for Lawson and his band and should greatly please fans of straight-on bluegrass music. Lawson started out playing with Jimmy Martin in the early 1960s, played with JD Crowe and did a tour of duty in The Country Gentlemen before striking out fronting Quicksilver. Decades later, he's got a tight band with accomplished players.
Lawson fans will find some well-worn standbys on "Live," namely "Little Girl," perhaps the song most closely identified with Lawson, as well as gospel stalwarts "On The Sea of Life" and " I'll Be True While Your Gone."
But there are some new workings of other songs not previously recorded by the band: Webb Pierce's "Leaving On Her Mind," "Shenandoah Breakdown" and "Living Like There's No Tomorrow"(written by Keith Whitley).
The material is straightforward, but admirably displays the skills of the members of Quicksilver. Lawson has a long track record and attracts some of the best sidemen around for the band. Taking particularly strong turns, Josh Swift (resophonic), Stephen Burwell (fiddle), and Jake Vanover (guitar and lead vocals) contribute mightily to warming up what was likely a chilly night in The Mother of Cities.
No sun-splashed summer days come to mind, but Lawson's command of the band and his repertoire offer an energizing and satisfying reminder of why bluegrass music strikes (both literally and figuratively) chords deep within us. Harmonies, breaks and vocal leads all combine for the single intention that America's music, even for a foreign audience, resonates in ways that are best experienced first-hand.