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January 19

Tony Rice shows his Guitar Prowess in Church Street Blues

Church Street Blues is a Norman Blake original. Norman wrote and recorded the track in 1978. Five years later, Tony Rice made his own cover of the song. Sugar Hill released the album Church Street Blues in 1983.

This song shows how well he mastered the art of playing the guitar. It is not the sum total of Tony’s guitar explorations, though. At times, he reaches into jazz, which is one of the more traditional-styled tunes he has done. As he plays, let us note several things. First, how easy it seems for him to play. The second is the economy of motion in his right and left hands. Third, the dynamics he does when he is playing the lead part.  The guitar running between vocal lines is the fourth. Fifth is how his rhythmic emphasis follows the vocal. The sixth is the seamlessness of the arrangement. Last but not the least is how he puts the lyrics of this great Norman Blake song across to the listener.

This version is live, un-retouched, unadulterated awesomeness.

Tony Rice: His Career & Life

In addition to the Church Street Blues album, the label released Cold on the Shoulder. This was one of his solo albums released in 1984. Sad to say, this album is all too often ignored. After forming The Tony Rice Unit in 1978, this was his first solo project. The only other artist on the album is Rice’s brother, Wyatt. This is the first album on which Wyatt recorded, and he plays rhythm on four tracks. All other work is just Tony and his guitar.

Born David Anthony Rice on June 8, 1951, in Danville, Virginia, Tony Rice is an American guitarist and bluegrass musician. He is perhaps the most prominent living acoustic guitar player in bluegrass, progressive bluegrass, newgrass and flattop acoustic jazz. In 2013, Tony Rice became an inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Rice’s musical genius extends the acoustic range from traditional bluegrass to jazz-influenced new acoustic music to songwriter-oriented folk. Throughout his career, he has played alongside J. D. Crowe and the New South, David Grisman and Jerry Garcia. In addition, he led his own Tony Rice Unit, collaborated with Norman Blake, recorded with his brothers Wyatt, Ron, and Larry, and co-founded the Bluegrass Album Band. He has recorded with drums, piano, soprano sax, as well as with traditional bluegrass instrumentation.


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church street blues, Tony Rice


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