Although she doesn't look it, Laurie Lewis is a bluegrass pioneer. As a founding member of the first all-female bluegrass band, The Good Ol' Persons in the mid-70's, Lewis was involved in the rediscovery of roots music by a generation of players. Along the way Lewis has twice been named IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year and garnered a Grammy for her work on True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe. On her latest release Lewis showcases the breadth of her musical talent – singing, songwriting, and playing both guitar and fiddle.
Unlike many bluegrassers, who grew up around the music, Lewis discovered bluegrass in her early twenties in that hotbed of bluegrass, the Bay area of California. "It really was a different deal coming to bluegrass in the San Francisco Bay area," Lewis says. "There weren't a lot of cutting contests; it was all about making music together, a focus on interdependency rather than individual prowess." On Blossoms Lewis enlists the help of her longtime musical partner Tom Rozum on mandolin, octave mandolin, and vocals. The album roster also includes David Grier, Nina Gerber, and Scott Huffington on guitar, Roy Rodger on slide guitar, Alex Hargreaves, Brittany Haas, and Darol Anger on fiddles, and Tim O'Brien, The Burns sisters, and Kathy Kallick on harmony vocals. One tune, "Cool Your Jets," has Car Talk's Tom and Ray Magliozzi contributing spoken parts.
The music on Blossoms isn't strictly bluegrass. Instead it's a celebration of diversity with spirituals such as "How Can I Keep From Singing" followed by folkier songs such as Kate McLeod's "Lark in The Morning." Lewis' original songs go from winsome ballads such as "Chains of Letters" to Caribbean-flavored rap songs like "Cool Your Jets." In between you'll hear a dual fiddle instrumental, "Sophie's House," and an accapella rendition of "Return to the Fire." Taken as a whole Blossoms serves as a wonderful introduction for new fans and a big ol' hug for longtime fans.