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Album Review

Although not as cosmic as the solo guitar odysseys of John Fahey or Robbie Basho, the early-'70s recordings of this veteran dobro picker have an equal importance to the development of acoustic-stringed music in America. The skill with which Auldridge put together vehicles for his tremendously appealing soloing style, smoothly handling transitions between members of a large and star-studded cast of supporting characters, not only resulted in a boost in interest in the dobro, but the entire civilization of soloists on various instruments benefited from such obvious evidence of potential appeal, while the Washington, D.C., bluegrass scene never quite recovered from the legendary status of these recording sessions and the magical things that went on as the tapes rolled. This was the first of a pair of projects Auldridge created for Takoma; he cut the fine Blues & Bluegrass several years later, using many of the same musicians. In many ways these are like adjunct Seldom Scene recordings, as a few of that group's players show up. Things couldn't get off to a livelier start than the opening track, "Hillbilly Hula," a sheer delight in its combination of both Hawaiian and bluegrass genre trademarks. "Pickaway" is one of several bluegrass numbers that is out and out hardcore in the sense of sounding like the energy of that rock style is being referenced. The banjo picking on this track is wonderful. As the album proceeds the instrumentalists keep digging deeper and deeper, splashing musical imagery in a competition that suggests a group of crack photographers trying to outdo each other at a slide show. "Rolling Fog" comes in, atmosphere galore, right before the landing on "Dobro Island," most likely a place that fans of Auldridge would love to be stranded. The latter state is how some listeners might feel if forced to sit through the entire "House of the Rising Sun," the final selection and one of a only a few misfires in the program. Another dud is the saccharine "Greensleeves," played as if trying to entertain drunks at an Appalachian ski lodge, but of course this was the track that got all the NPR airplay.


Born: 30 December 1938 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Country

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

With his skill and his broad definition of the meaning of bluegrass music, Mike Auldridge became known over his multi-decade career as a master of the Dobro, or resonator guitar. Raised in Kensington, Maryland, he began playing guitar at 12, adding banjo when he was 16 and settling on Dobro at 17. In 1954, he made his first radio appearance on a local show, playing in a band with his brother, Dave. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1967 and became a commercial artist, while continuing...
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Top Albums and Songs by Mike Auldridge

Dobro, Mike Auldridge
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