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Family Tradition: The Stoneman Legacy

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Album Review

Despite recording dozens of albums and scoring a number of minor hits in the '60s, Family Tradition: The Stoneman Legacy is one of the few collections available that documents the achievements of the stoic Pops Stoneman and his clan. After gaining attention as purveyors of old-timey/bluegrass music through their releases on the Folkways and King record labels, the Stoneman Family made a move to the much larger MGM in the mid-'60s. They didn't really change their style, and their songs were still rough-hewn portraits of Southern life drawn from the same musical well that fueled Bill Monroe and countless other country/ bluegrass stars. Having a major-label budget, however, did lead to a change in the Stonemans' overall sound and that is the period which Family Tradition covers. The result of their barely polished hillbilly pop was a Top 40 hit in 1966 with "Tupelo County Jail," which is naturally featured here. The rest of the collection's generous 20 cuts include Stoneman renditions of classics like "Orange Blossom Special," "Little Maggie," and "Mule Skinner Blues." There are a few omissions from the set, most notably the other chart hits, "Christopher Robin" and "Five Little Johnson Girls," but Family Tradition fills a big gap in bluegrass history and does a fine job at that.


Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

The Stoneman Family (or the Stonemans) ranked among country music's most famous family bands, and were closely associated with their legendary father, Ernest "Pop" Stoneman, who played with them for a number of years. The core of the band was made up of six of Pop's 13 children: Patsy, Scotty, Donna, Jimmy, Roni, and Van. They were originally known as the Blue Grass Champs, and got their start after winning on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts in the mid-'50s. They soon added members and gained a following...
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