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Act Two

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Album Review

The writing credits themselves tell an interesting story on an early Seldom Scene album. Names like Norman Blake, John Prine, Hank Williams, and Earl Scruggs show the eclectic nature of the band's repertoire. No matter what genre the song came from, however, the Seldom Scene put their distinct stamp on it. A bouncy "Hello Mary Lou," for instance, has almost nothing in common with the Rick Nelson version, while a high-spirited version of "Paradise" is played fast enough for a country flat-footing contest. Add to this John Starling's resonant lead, the group's three-part harmony, and the sweet sounds of Mike Auldridge's dobro, and this band is immediately recognizable. While few would object to the band's style or material today, rock songs, folk vocals, and dobro — as opposed to fiddle — made the band unwelcome in some bluegrass circles in the early '70s. Nonetheless, even the most tried-and-true traditionalist can appreciate pieces like "I've Lost You" and "House of Gold." The standout track among standout tracks? Duffey's rendition of "Small Exception of Me." His high tenor packs the song with lots of mountain soul, milking it for every possible drop of pathos. The Seldom Scene never played any better than they did on their early Rebel albums — new bluegrass bands did. A must-have for old fans, Act Two also provides an excellent introduction for newcomers and a fine place to indoctrinate oneself into the treasures of progressive bluegrass. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1971 in Washington, D.C.

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Since their inception in 1971, the Seldom Scene have thrived on playing bluegrass a little differently than everyone else. If other bands used a fiddler, the Seldom Scene used a Dobro; if others relied on old standards, the Seldom Scene played rock classics like J.J. Cale's "After Midnight." Through skilled musicianship and an urban approach to bluegrass, the Seldom Scene have become one of the most influential — if not the most influential — bluegrass band of their time. In 1971, mandolinist...
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