Today marks the release date of Skippin’ and Flyin’ from Laurie Lewis (Spruce and Maple Music). Yes, this is yet another Bill Monroe tribute record on the 100th anniversary of his birth. God knows there were enough of those this year (and every year, in the humble opinion of ole Fiddlefreak). The Father of Bluegrass continues to spawn oodles of traditional bluegrass bands that adhere strictly to his original formula, and even his repertoire. But not Laurie. With her musical partner Tom Rozum, she has established her own smooth-yet-rootsy style that integrates West Coast bluegrass, folk, swing, old-time country and her earth-friendly originals. Kinda like Bill Monroe did.
Says Laurie: “It’s an ongoing thread in my musical life. I fell in love not just with the music, but with the vehicle for the music. I just love a string band,” she adds with a laugh. “A string band of versatile players can do just about anything — they can follow me just about wherever I want to go.”
LISTEN: Carter’s Blues
LISTEN: A Lonesome Road
Skippin’ and Flyin’ is an amazing and satisfying listen, chock full of bluegrass classics as well as little-known chestnuts that deserve the exposure. The album’s title comes from Old Ten Broeck, a signature Bill Monroe piece that Laurie reworked from various sources, and the opening track. Extensive liner notes reveal an essay from Laurie on her inspiration for this project, as well as lyrics and some surprising guest appearances (from Linda Ronstadt to Nadine Landry of Foghorn fame). With sources that include Flatt and Scruggs, Jimmy Rodgers, Maybelle Carter, Utah Phillips, Bill Monroe, and herself, she has produced a fine bluegrass record by inspiring top shelf string players to a new level. Kinda like Bill Monroe did.