Formed in 1985, The Nashville Bluegrass Band is one of the most critically-acclaimed bands in bluegrass music. Although it's been six long years since NBB's last album, the group recently released their 10th disc called Twenty Year Blues. And, for fans, the long wait was worth it.
Twenty Year Blues finds The Nashville Bluegrass Band dividing their time between songs old and new. The Grammy Award-nominated album kicks off with an instrumental called "Garfield's Blackberry Blossom," a traditional tune that showcases the bands instrumental expertise.
Longtime fans may notice a slight shift in NBB's sound on this recording. There have been a few personnel changes since the last Nashville Bluegrass Band recording. Original mandolinist Mike Compton has rejoined the group, with bassist Dennis Crouch making his debut on Twenty Year Blues. The rest of the band's lineup remains the same: Alan O'Bryant on banjo; Stuart Duncan playing fiddle; and Pat Enright on guitar. Lead vocal chores are shared between Compton, O'Bryant and Enright, heard here singing the Jimmie Rodgers tune "Gambling Barroom Blues."
While The Nashville Bluegrass Band plays "old style" bluegrass music, they're not afraid to stray from tradition. The band includes mixing Bill Monroe's classic songs in with tunes from the black string band and gospel traditions. On Twenty Year Blues, they do a fine cover of the 1920s' gospel song, "Hush (Somebody's Callin' My Name)."
The new CD also finds NBB singing "Luckiest Man Alive," a song contrasting the life of a World War II veteran with that of his son, who fought in the Vietnam War. While the father considered himself lucky to survive his war, he's again the "Luckiest Man Alive" when his son returns home alive. Vietnam is a subject not usually covered in bluegrass songs.
Besides marking a significant anniversary, Twenty Year Blues may mark another special achievement for The Nashville Bluegrass Band. It's been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album. A win would be NBB's third in that category.