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Bluegrass Revival Spurs Release of Holiday Roots Music 

The ongoing downturn in the music business means fewer holiday music albums are being released this year. But, fans of American roots music still have a fine selection to chose from.

You can credit the O Brother Where Art Thou-inspired bluegrass revival for "Christmas Time On Rockytop" by The Osborne Brothers. The bluegrass legends recorded that clever take on their signature song "Rockytop" for an album called Christmas On The Mountain. The bluegrass Christmas album also features tracks from The Del McCoury Band, Doc Watson, Mac Wiseman and Tim O'Brien. Tim's contribution is a new song called "Bah Humbug," the tale of an all too modern, joyless holiday celebration.

O Christmas Tree is a compilation on Rounder Records. Songs from Rhonda Vincent, Lynn Morris and Tony Trischka are on this compilation of new and archival material. One highlight is the vintage Johnson Mountain Boys track, "The Friendly Beasts."

Sugar Hill Records offers two holiday compilations. Holiday Treats - Volumes One and Two are both full of holiday treats from the roots artists signed to the North Carolina-based label. The first volume, called Sugar Plums, includes holiday songs from legendary guitars picker Doc Watson and Dan Crary, and The Seldom Scene. There's also a solo track from one-time Scene lead singer John Starling on the CD. He's sings "Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem," with Larry Stephenson singing harmony.

The second volume of Holiday Treats is titled Tinsel Tunes. It includes Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas From The Family," along with seasonal songs by Sam Bush, Mollie O'Brien, and a wonderful collaboration between The Nashville Bluegrass Band and The Fairfield Four, called "The Last Month Of The Year."