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Rhonda Vincent plays a pretty tasty meat and potatoes show

Lexington, Mass., March 18, 2005

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Rhonda Vincent remains just about at the very top of the bluegrass world, well probably one notch behind the untouchable Alison Krauss.

In the case of Vincent, being second fiddle ain't such a bad thing. She continues to release albums filled with good material, including her brand new CD/DVD "Ragin' Live."

Unlike many live albums, which just rehash previously released songs, Vincent and her excellent band The Rage, offered eight new songs.

In concert at the Boston Bluegrass Union show, what makes Vincent stand out is her singing and song selection. The singing seems to be effortless ("Jolene," which almost seems a standard, but is not a throwaway in the hands of Vincent, who also delves into country, and the heartfelt "Missouri Moon").

She also was helped quite capably on backing vocals by band mates Micky Harris on acoustic basss and guitarist Josh Williams, a Pinecastle artist, who sanag several of his own songs during the show.

The Rage is one fine band as well. Youthful Hunter Berry not only is humorous and unafraid to say what's on his mind (whether he be the butt of jokes or making others the aim of his humor), but more importantly plays a mean fiddle. Veteran banjoman Kenny Ingram is superb and contributed an instrumental ("Road Rage") he wrote as well.

Vincent is unafraid to let her band play out, much the same as Krauss doees with Union Station.

Not everything worked so well.

Once again, Vincent played towards her sponsors, Martha White, the southern biscuit company. Having the name on mike stands was okay, and her big tour bus in the parking lot underscored the White-Vincent connection.

But while sponsorship may part of bluegrass istory, does Vincent have to play the Martha White theme song, in effect a jingle?

And why the constant reminder that she has a new DVD out? Once or twice would have sufficed.

Vincent should have been a lot more coherent in telling a story about a great deed she did in buying a truck for a local fan at the concert. The only problem was the story made very little sense since Vincent started somewhere in the middle.

Vincent's formula has worked quite well over the years. Her concerts haven't changed all that much. Nor does that mean they are dull - she sings and plays with energy and confidence.

Fortunately, Vincent is an excellent singer with a catalogue of very fine songs. And that is what should stand out from the show, another meat-and-potatoes effort from one of the top stars in bluegrass today.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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