Woody Simmons,
Live at WVMR
(Pocahontas, 2005)

You can't get more down home than this collection by the late fiddler Woody Simmons. The tunes are drawn from 20 years of archives of fundraising benefits for community radio network WVMR of West Virginia. There are 38 tracks, many of which are short spoken introductions. Banjo player Jay Lockman, who appears on many of the cuts, chose them for sound quality and variety.

On most tracks, Simmons is accompanied by some combination of guitar, banjo, mandolin and bass, although he plays banjo himself on one track. Even though the tunes are traditional, there are many obscurities along with well-known ones like "Arkansas Traveler" and "Soldier's Joy." But Simmons learned from other fiddlers and relatives as well as records and the radio, so his versions of the standards are often unique and individualistic.

The excellent 20-page CD cover booklet gives the story of each tune. It says that Simmons won 300 prizes for his playing. That's no surprise, judging from this wonderful recording of old-time bluegrass.

review by
Dave Howell

15 November 2008

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