Tony Rice | Photo credit: bluegrasstoday.com

Considered as the most prominent living acoustic guitar player in a diverse music genre is no other than Tony Rice. His exceptional guitar-playing skills span from classic bluegrass to new acoustic jazz music. He had various collaborations with other great musicians throughout his career. Among those he played with were J.D. Crowe and the New South, Jerry Garcia, Norman Blake, and David Grisman. As his collaborative work continues to expand, his expertise in playing musical instruments also gets broader and more profound. This mastery of his craft led to his induction into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

Church Street Blues

The Album

Back in 1983, Rice released a solo album called Church Street Blues. It was his first record under his Tony Rice Unit formed in 1978. While it is a solo project, the album enlisted Tony’s brother, Wyatt Rice, in it. Wyatt’s participation here became his first-ever record. He played rhythms on four tracks while the rest were Tony’s performances with his guitar. The album essentially demonstrates Tony Rice’s musical eclecticism. Consisting of 12 tracks, the album features almost every music genre including contemporary folk and traditional country and blues. Listening to each of the album’s records is truly worth your time as they exude a lot of intimacy. You feel like getting closer to Rice for each of the songs he sings of plays.

The Song

“Church Street Blues” is the lead single and title track of Rice’s album of the same name. The song was originally recorded by Norman Blake. In this piece, Rice displayed just how magnificent his guitar-playing skill is. To be clarified on this, let’s look into some aspects of the record that highlights the singer’s expertise. First and foremost, the laid-back style he shows in working with his guitar is very apparent. This only means that he’s very much comfortable with it and he seems to be enjoying what he’s doing. Secondly, there is frugality of motion in his right and left fingers. While the rhythm of the tune he’s playing sounds to be in fast tempo, his fingers moved in a controlled manner. There is also a noticeable dynamism he shows while playing the album’s lead track. Next is, the guitar running between the vocal lines. Again, this proves how adept he is with the instrument. The harmonious blending of the rhythm and the vocals, as well as the unified arrangement, are likewise amazing. Finally, his ability to put the lyrics of this notable Norman Blake record across the listener is certainly fantastic.

Watch the performance of “Church Street Blues” by the guitar expert Tony Rice.

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