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Mac Martin and the Dixie Travelers

Venango
Copper Creek

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One listen to this disc, the Pittsburgh quintet's first recording of new material in at least 15 years, and it's clear that it shouldn't take a 50th anniversary for something as monumental, albeit simple, as Venango to happen. This is bluegrass as it should be, with a focus on depth and feel instead of speed. With Martin is long-time fiddler Mike Carson, who wrote the minor-key instrumental showpiece that gives the record -- a bedrock of gospel harmony, driving rhythm and solos smeared in taste -- its title. And like any Dixie Travelers release, the disc is a smorgasbord of little-known old-time classics by the likes of The Cumberland Ridge Runners, Don Reno and Lester Flatt. Yet, it's Mac's two original gospel hymns, his gorgeous tenor vocals and the group's fervent harmonies that prove once and for all that the only way for tradition to move forward is to do so unconsciously. 

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