Sunday, July 14, 2013

Prescription Bluegrass Reviews - Don Rigsby - ‘Doctor’s Orders’

Image635094137445409628Imagine, you are doing a tribute CD to one of your favorite artists. Now, imagine giving that artist a list of 50 songs and HE picks the songs for the album.

That is exactly how Don Rigsby allowed the songs on his current project Doctor’s Orders, A Tribute to Ralph Stanley to be chosen. This project includes 14 songs, 13 of which are Stanley classics with the title track written by Larry Cordle.

I must admit that when I first heard Don Rigsby was doing a tribute project for Ralph Stanley, I was not exactly ready to run out and purchase the CD.

Being a fan of more modern bluegrass styles, I really haven’t given fair dues, in terms of embracing the music, to the true pioneers of bluegrass. While I have a huge respect for those that paved the way for today’s musicians, I have never been the fan that many people are.

Then, I heard a few cuts from Doctor’s Orders and I became hooked, not only on the project, but also on hearing how Dr. Stanley himself performed the songs. This project pays homage to Image635094140478403105Ralph Stanley, a man that has inspired and continues to inspire so many artists. Listeners can hear and feel the genuine admiration of everyone involved with Doctor’s Orders and it is that appreciation that shines throughout this entire project.

In the liner notes, Rigsby relays his story of, at six-years old, seeing Ralph Stanley in concert and how, with a little help of a then new Clinch Mountain Boy, Keith Whitley, getting the privilege of meeting, in Rigsby’s words, “The Man.” This project is the result of that meeting and the influence that Dr. Stanley has had on the career of Don Rigsby.

The title track The Mountain Doctor, written by Larry Cordle, is a prescription of Dr. Stanley’s Clinch Mountain music. Listeners are assured that “The Mountain Doctor,” “Nurse Pretty Polly” and some mountain tonic can cure any ailment. The treatment must work because, after a few doses of this project, your troubles seem to melt away.

For Doctor’s Orders Rigsby took the realm as producer and I believe that had an impact on the cohesion of every aspect of the project. Every phase of this project, from merging a specific artist with an exact song to the song order, has been well planned.

In a day when many singers take a classic song and put their own arrangement on it, Rigsby is to be commended for his attention to detail and staying true to Dr. Stanley’s recordings. Rigsby sings lead, plays mandolin, and in many instances provides harmony vocals, on all the songs and is joined on several songs by Dr. Stanley himself. Traveling The Highway Home, written by Frankie and Walter Bailes, is a product of this union. With Rigsby’s vocals and Stanley’s banjo playing as pristine as ever, this song will have listeners coming back for a refill.

Rigsby hand chose each artist on this project for his outstanding craftsmanship. Providing additional harmony vocals are Midnight Call members Lloyd Herring and Clyde Marshall. The traditional song, Sinner Man, is an outstanding example of the harmony Rigsby has with his current band members. This song is sure to be a blessing to all that hear.


Also providing vocals on the project are former Clinch Mountain Boys Charlie Sizemore, Ricky Skaggs, and Larry Spark. Sparks takes co-lead with Rigsby on I Only Exist and the result is nothing short of a chilly reminder of when Sparks and Dr. Stanley recorded this song on Hills of Home. The upbeat Tennessee Truck Driving Man, with Rigsby on lead vocal, has Sizemore taking lead on the chorus and Skaggs providing baritone.

The top-quality musicians on this project assist in recreating the infamous Stanley sound. Every track on this project has stayed so true to the version recorded by Stanley. Rigsby included Midnight Call band members Clyde Marshall (guitar), Matt Hooper (fiddle), Lloyd Herring (banjo), and Robert Maynard (bass), on several tracks. In addition, Rigsby invited other musicians to participate on this project; including current Clinch Mountain Boy James Alan Shelton (guitar), Steve Sparkman (banjo), Barry Bales (bass), Ron Stewart (fiddle), Larry Sparks (guitar), and Charlie Sizemore (guitar).

Throughout this project are scattered songs of loss, longing, and pain, One such song is The Water Lily, penned by Tom T. Hall, that speaks of a child lost before her Mother’s eyes that Rigsby and Midnight Call perform so well that is will surely garner them new fans and reignite the enthusiasm current fans.

Whether you a fan of traditional bluegrass or more progressive bluegrass, Doctor’s Orders is a project that you will definitely want for your collection. This project encompasses the appreciation that one exceptional bluegrass musician has for another and pays a true tribute to a Bluegrass icon.

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful CD and I would recommend that every bluegrass fan add it to their collection.


ALL comments are moderated and must be approved by the administrator of this blog. SPAM Comments, HATE Comments and general dis-respect will be ignored and deleted. Opposite opinion comments will be posted if presented in a polite and professional approach.

Subscribe Now: RSS Reader