Pickin' On Jimmy Buffett: A Bluegrass Tribute

Various Artists

CMH Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Chances are, if you're a fan of music like Jimmy Buffett's, you probably aren't a fan of country or bluegrass music. Likewise, if you're an afficionnado of bluegrass, chances are you don't have any of Buffett's discs in your collection.

So why does an album like Pickin' On Jimmy Buffett: A Bluegrass Tribute work so well? Maybe it's because the musicians who took part in this project recognized that for all of the goofy good times that Buffett has made a career singing about, there has always been more than a little twang in Buffett's songs and their delivery. What this group has done, in effect, is they've stripped these songs down to their bare essentials, and reminded listeners from all musical paths just why they were so enjoyable to begin with.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In a sense, this disc is more than just a bluegrass album; it's a celebration on many levels. On one side, it's a celebration in the raucous joy that bluegrass music can be - and this is coming from a person who is not the biggest country music fan in the world. On another angle, it's exciting to hear songs people (probably) know so well with a different twist to them. But make no mistake, musicians like Brent Truitt, David Talbot and Rob Ickes approach these songs with reverence, refusing to stray far from their original structure.

And maybe this works out best for all parties. After all, when you take two forms of music that is almost always about joy and send them on a collision course, the result has to be something splendid. That's the case with Pickin' On Jimmy Buffett: A Bluegrass Tribute. There's plenty of room for listeners to add their own vocals to the instrumental versions of "Come Monday," "Margaritaville" and "A Pirate Looks At 40" while getting caught up in the revelry of the music. (This doesn't mean all the songs are sped up into frenzied pickings; actually, many of the songs are performed in the same tempos as the originals. Only "Son Of A Son Of A Sailor" gets whipped into a frenzy... and this, too, works.)

One has to wonder what Buffett would think of hearing his songs being sung by mandolins, banjos and fiddles instead of his own voice. Something tells me he'd love it - and frankly, I could see Buffett singing while these talented musicians backed him. It just works, and it works well.

I don't often listen to bluegrass music -- to be honest, I have precious little in the halls of the Pierce Memorial Archives. But Pickin' On Jimmy Buffett: A Bluegrass Tribute is a disc which will be getting a lot of airtime when I just need something fun to listen to. It might just bridge a gap between two musical styles... but, then again, maybe that's what Buffett has been trying to do all these years.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMH Records, and is used for informational purposes only.