Personnel: Sam Bush (mandolin); Pat Flynn (guitar); Bela Fleck, Courtney Johnson (banjo); John "Juke" Logan (harmonica); Tom Roady (percussion).
Like many of the modern bluegrass masters who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, Sam Bush is a multi-instrumentalist who excels no matter which style he is playing. These 1984 sessions feature the leader in a variety of contexts. He plays fiddle in a traditional duet of Bill Monroe's "Big Mon" with banjo picker Courtney Johnson, then switches to mandolin and singing lead in "Last Letter Home," backed by guitarist Norman Blake and cellist Nancy Blake with bassist John Cowan's harmony vocal and Dobro player Curtis Burch. Perhaps the most fun track is his interpretation of the unjustly overlooked mandolinist Dave Apollon's "Russian Rag"; Bush overdubs himself on mandolins, mandolas, and bass, accompanied by Mike Marshall's multiple mandolins, mandocellos, and guitar. His mandolin duet of the standard "Broadway" with Jethro Burns (a brilliant instrumentalist best known for his work as a part of the country music comedy duo Homer & Jethro) is a meeting between two masters of the instrument. Bush also includes a few originals, with banjo star B‚la Fleck added for his progressive "Crooked Smile." ~ Ken Dryden