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The best music you’ve never heard #4: Rhonda Vincent

Set that bluegrass on fire!

Rhonda VNow I know what you’re going to say: Bluegrass is for square dancers, hillbillies and flannel-clad hipsters. Truth be told, as a rule, it’s not one of my favorite genres, but I make the occasional exception for the greats: Ralph Stanley, Chris Thile and the musical queen of the Smokey Mountains, the one and only Miss Dolly Parton.

To my way of thinking, Jolene is one of the greatest heart-broke ballads ever written. Plaintive and gorgeous, it’s musical heaven in my book. So you’ll understand why I was dubious when my better half brought home a CD that included a cover of Dolly’s magnum opus some years ago. I was very skeptical, but lord have mercy, was I wrong.

Backed up by The Rage, Rhonda Vincent puts some serious fire in bluegrass music. Not only does she have a great set of pipes, but she can really play. This is seriously hot stuff. Give a listen.

Is your computer smoking yet? No? Then you don’t have the volume up high enough.

A big thank you to my blog buddy Tom Wisk for motivating me to get back to work with his latest post

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Think you can handle more musical ramblings? OK, but don’t say I didn’t warn you — it can get a little weird hanging around my iPod.

Oh holy crap, here it comes again (The Slattern’s holiday party playlist!)
I did NOT have musical relations with that disco band
The best music you’ve never heard #1
The best music you’ve never heard #2
The best music you’ve never heard #3
Guilty Pleasures: Spring party mix

The best music you’ve (maybe) never heard #2

Support your local mandolin genius: Chris Thile

Now I know what you’re thinking: Mandolin GENIUS? C’mon, that’s really reaching. Piano genius, certainly. Guitar virtuoso, perhaps, but the lowly mandolin? Nah.

Well the folks at the MacArthur genius board of standards do not agree, and this year they awarded one of the much coveted, extremely elusive “genius grants” to Chris Thile, grown-up musical prodigy and collaborator to such middling talents as Yo Yo Ma, Béla Fleck and Dolly Parton.  He plays classical music and bluegrass, and every genre in between with amazing skill. Still not convinced? Have a look at this, then.

Though not musical myself, I have it on good authority that what you just witnessed is completely freakin’ impossible, but there he is, sitting around the apartment in his yellow socks, picking a Bach prelude on his mandolin!

For those of you looking for more accessible musical offerings, give Maestro Thile’s bluegrass and acoustic music a try, under the band names Nickel Creek or the Punch Brothers. I’m also partial to the Goat Rodeo recordings, from which I’ll share the following, my favorite song from the record. And yes, that IS Yo Yo Ma playing the cello.

Want more obscure music recommendations? Try this.

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