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Thirty Years of Farming

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Album Review

Again joined by the James King Band, with Owen Saunders now featured prominently, the masterly song interpreter delivers standard, high quality bluegrass music. Rounder bills King as a mountain soul singer, touting his adept blending of honky tonk with his inherent knowledge of hardcore bluegrass tradition, which has been honed by his stringent performance schedule, particularly at festivals. The band provides traditional harmonies and classic, polished string acrobatics (check out the instrumental "Whoopin' It"). Thirty Years of Farming opens with the title track, which was written by alt-country troubador Fred Eaglesmith, and recounts a family's loss of their farm due to bank foreclosure. Describing the subsequent auctioning of its equipment and possessions and the last look they take at their former home before driving off, probably to more urban frontiers, is kept from sentimentality by the timeless nature of its subject matter. The album also features songs by Tom T. and Dixie Hall and George Jones, and closes with a song King says he learned from Hazel Dickens, the lilting, mid-tempo, Charlie Maguire-penned "Play Us a Waltz."


Born: 1958 in Caroll County, VA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

With his 1993 solo album These Old Pictures, James King was established as a top-notch bluegrass vocalist. The album, however, was only the latest step in a musical career that had begun 14 years before. A featured member of Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys in the 1980s, King, who was raised in Virginia's Carroll County, grew up listening to bluegrass. His father, Jim King, had appeared on Roanoke television with Don Reno and Red Smiley as tenor vocalist and guitarist for the Country Cousins,...
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Thirty Years of Farming, James King
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