PIONEERING WOMEN OF BLUEGRASS consists of Hazel Dickens' and Alice Gerrard's first two albums, released in 1965 and 1973 on Folkways (31055, 31034).
Personnel: Hazel Dickens (vocals, bass); Alice Gerrard (vocals, guitar, banjo); David Grisman (vocals, mandolin); Fred Weisz (vocals, guitar); Mike Seeger (guitar); Lamar Grier (banjo); Chubby Wise, Billy Baker (fiddle).
Recorded at First Unitarian Church, Washington, D.C. and Mastertone Studios, New York, New York between late 1964 and late 1965. Includes liner notes by Neil Rosenberg, Alice Gerrard and Hazel Dickens.
Audio Remasterer: David Glasser.
Liner Note Authors: Hazel Dickens; Bill Vernon; Alice Gerrard; Neil V. Rosenberg.
Introduction bys: Hazel Dickens; Neil V. Rosenberg.
Photographers: Barry Glickman; Hazel Dickens; John Cohen.
Unknown Contributor Role: Peter Siegel.
Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard recorded a couple of albums in the mid-'60s that are now acknowledged as groundbreakers in demonstrating that women could play and record quality bluegrass. This collection remasters and re-sequences 26 tracks from the sessions, as well as adding lengthy historical liner notes, much of them contributed by the performers themselves. Historical significance aside, it's pretty good bluegrass, the two singers and instrumentalists supported by other good musicians, including a young David Grisman. Their set leaned heavily on covers of tunes by the Carter Family and Bill Monroe (who specifically gave "I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling" to the duo), with additional items by the Delmore Brothers, the Stanley Brothers, and the like. Alice Gerrard's low vocals give this a greater gravity than much bluegrass. A special highlight is their cover of the magnificently mournful "The One I Love Is Gone," another tune that Monroe donated to the pair. Inverting the usual bluegrass clich‚, one might call it an example of the low and lonesome sound. ~ Richie Unterberger