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Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands

Review By Steven Stone
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  Bill Monroe never paid much attention to studio recording. He believed that bluegrass music was created to be played live. On her latest release, entitled simply, Live, Laurie Lewis treats us to a complete live performance including between song banter. If you've never had a chance to hear Lewis play live, now you can!

Lewis has been touring with her current band, The Right Hands, for several years and it shows. They have that "tight yet loose" feeling that only comes after many hours of playing together. Band members include her longtime collaborator Tom Rozum on mandolin, mandola, and vocals, Scott Huffman on guitar and vocals, Craig Smith on banjo and vocals, and Todd Phillips on bass and vocals. Every member of the band has the opportunity to take the spotlight. I especially enjoyed Tom Rozum's lead vocals on Si Kahn's "Just a Lie" and his swing mando chops on Irving Berlin's "Without My Walkin' Stick." Scott Huffman's down home tenor vocals shine on the Billy Joe Shaver song, "I'm Going To Live Forever." Of course Lewis serves up a large helping of her fiddle playing and vocals. She includes a number of original tunes including "Val's Cabin," "Love Chooses You," and "Texas Bluebonnets."

Recorded at three different venues in Oregon and Washington by veteran on-location engineer Fred Forssell, "Live" has all the clarity and dynamism of a studio recording but with that special spark that only happens during a live performance. I especially like the fact that the crowd is mixed down so that their noise never intrudes on the music. Too many times on live recordings the crowd's exhortations are too forward in the mix. Sure, it's nice to know the paying customers had a good time, but I want to hear the music! On "Live" the folks at home will easily have as much fun as the crowd at the show.






































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