Don Rigsby Empty Old Mailbox

Don Rigsby is a bluegrass veteran and mandolin player extraordinaire, with such musical credentials as the Bluegrass Cardinals, J.D. Crowe and the New South, the Lonesome River Band and, most recently, Longview. His solo debut was an all-gospel gem that was heavily influenced by the Stanley Brothers, yet this latest must-own is an upbeat blend of traditional married to contemporary. The guest list is a who's who: Jerry Douglas, Blue Highway's Tim Stafford, Stuart Duncan and J.D. Crowe, together with a heavenly blend of hill-flavoured voices led by Rigsby and Larry Sparks. The repertoire covers material by Tom T. Hall (the title track), John Hartford and Rigsby's trusted Marvin Davis, and the results are pure Kentucky soul. Each track bears repeated listening and the variety of material and the quality of the singing and playing makes this a timeless masterpiece. No sooner after you fall in love with the beautiful "If I'd Had A Mother Like You" you're swept away by the sheer majesty of "Dust To Dust." Very much the product of Eastern Kentucky, Rigsby has absorbed the handed down music of the old masters and translated their traditional teachings into a more contemporary expression that still revolves around the age-old values of family, hearth and home. Rigsby's even enlisted his father to "check the mail" on the CD cover while his wife, Tina, provides back-up vocals. It's a family affair, but Rigsby's music also strikes a universal chord that binds you to its sad, lonesome sound, yet makes you feel all the better for it. (Sugar Hill)