Country Family Reunion has put together a special bluegrass music collection titled, Simply Bluegrass. The collection is a series of programs spread out over 4 DVDs plus a backstage presentation DVD. The series does an excellent job of raising awareness of today's bluegrass music and the artists that drive it. Simply put, Simply Bluegrass is Simply Marvelous.
Each of the artists present perform with the same bluegrass band rather than their own backup performers. At first this seems a bit odd -- especially if you are used to hearing these artists with their peer players. But, this isn't any ordinary band. The band is comprised of excellent bluegrass artists in their own right -- Adam Steffey on mandolin, Ron Stewart on banjo, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Bryan Sutton on guitar, and Barry Bales on bass.
The on-stage audience features the performs who take to the stage for each performance and what a lineup that is. Whisperin' Bill Anderson and Ricky Skaggs host the bluegrass series. Anderson has been the host of RFD-TV's Country Family Reunion and Skaggs joins him to add a bluegrass perspective to these bluegrass performances.
Each of the intimate sessions brings the audience closer to the bluegrass stars where a unique and up-close dialog is interspersed with the music. This series isn't just a collection of performances but rather a collection of visits with the artists who share some of their history along with their music.
Opening with Ricky Skaggs, the first DVD also features award winning The Gibson Brothers, Rhonda Vincent, Larry Cordle, Ramona Jones and Sam Bush. The Whites, Mac Wiseman, Country's Family Reunion Band, Del McCoury, Dierks Bentley and Paul Brewster round out the second disc. The third dics features Sierra Hull, Dailey & Vincent, Bobby Osborne, Jerry Douglas, Donna Ulisse, Doyle Lawson and a collaboration with Doyle Lawson Dailey & Vincent. The fourth volume wraps up the series with Ronnie Reno,Carl Jackson, Rhonda Vincent with Dailey & Vincent, Country's Family Reunion Band, The Roys, The Gibson Brothers and a CFR Band finale. Other artists are featured throughout the 4 discs to give the viewer a real taste of today's bluegrass music.
As a bonus feature, the Backstage disc is an outstanding addition to this set. Here is where you really get to grasp a true feel for what the artists experience, share and feel about the music but, more than that, you get a perspective from their viewpoint rather than from the stage and the show. There's a lot of care and share between all the bluegrass artists as their lives and music intermingle throughout a performance year.
The one thing that you come away from after experiencing Simply Bluegrass is that it really isn't all that simple. Sure, they make it look easy but, on the road performing is a lot of work and trying to make all the pieces fit such that the audience is going to have a good time.
Simply Bluegrass is a great collection of performances that spans the breadth and width of bluegrass music today. From the legends to the standards and from the songwriters to the pickers, there is a camaraderie that comes through honestly within these volumes.