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  The Three Pickers 
Artist: Earl Scruggs/Doc Watson/ Randy Skaggs
Label: Rounder Records
Length: 23 tracks/65:00

Take two living legends--Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson--add one legend-in-the-making--Ricky Skaggs--and turn them loose in front of an audience at the R. J. Reynolds Auditorium in Winston-Salem, NC. Add a few friends like Alison Krauss, Richard Watson (Docs grandson), some Scruggss family and friends, and Skaggss band, Kentucky Thunder, and you will have this marvelous romp through a night of American folk music. 

Musically, you cant get any better than this line-up. Scruggs has been an innovator on banjo during his 20-year partnership with Lester Flatt and beyond. Watson remains one of the finest flat-picking acoustic guitar players weve ever been blessed to hear. Skaggs's main contribution is on mandolin but he shows his versatility by also playing guitar and some claw-hammer style banjo. Their guest musicians are almost as talented. The instrumental Pick Along gives everyone a chance to strut his or her talent. Scruggs is featured on his famous tune "Earls Breakdown."

The track list features many classic folk, bluegrass, and gospel songs. The recording begins with Feast Here Tonight, originally done by the Monroe  Brothers and later the Stanley Brothers. Taken at quick pace, this number displays the fine vocal harmonies that are found throughout the disc. Skaggs demonstrates the high-lonesome sound during the vocal interplay with Watson on "What Would You Give In Exchange for Your Soul?" Watsons warm voice is featured on "Walk On Boy," a song written about John Henry by country star Mel Tillis. Krauss joins the trio for a wonderful a cappella version of "Down in the Valley to Pray," a song converted and used in the baptism scene in the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou. Another highlight is the entire ensemble joining in on the Carter Family classic "Foggy Mountain Top." The disc closes with Skaggs taking the lead for a rollicking workout on the Flatt & Scruggs staple "Roll In My Sweet Babys Arms."

This recording is a joy to listen to from start to finish. If you love to hear true American roots music played by musicians with understanding and passion, you need to purchase this recording right away.  It is a testament to the power and grace of acoustic music.

Mark Thompson 10/26/2003
 

   
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