LARRY STEPHENSON BAND, "30," Whysper Dream Music. 12 tracks
The Larry Stephenson Band is celebrating 30 years with its new album, appropriately titled "30."
But Stephenson, who began playing mandolin at 5 and cut his first single at 11, has been around a lot longer.
When he graduated from high school in 1976, Stephenson joined his father in a popular regional band in Virginia, playing at The Wheeling Jamboree and other concerts and festivals.
In 1979, Stephenson joined Bill Harrell and The Virginians for 4 1/2 years.
In 1983, he went to work with The Bluegrass Cardinals and stayed for 5 1/2 years.
And in 1989, he formed his own band and hit the road.
This album is how bluegrass is supposed to sound with clear, sharp tenor singing and great harmony.
Three of the cuts – "Timber, I'm Falling In Love," "Just When I Needed You Most" and "Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes" – were on the band's first album.
"Two Hearts on the Borderline" was on a 2000 album.
"Blue Memories" is a new song as is the album's first single, "Two Ol' Country Boys Like Us," a duet with Ronnie Bowman, who co-wrote it with Stephenson.
Two songs – "Love Lifted Me" (not the gospel song) and "Tears" are from the Osborne Brothers catalog.
"Journey's End," co-written by Ernest Tubb, was recorded by the band 25 years ago.
Stephenson's "I Was Bluegrass (When Bluegrass Wasn't Cool)" is an uptempo tune about how bluegrass has gained in popularity since he was in high school.
"Darling Little Joe," a song from the public domain, finds a dying child asking questions about what will happen with his family when he is dead.
Stephenson's 9-year-old daughter, Whysper, provides a bonus track, singing a few lines from "County Boys" a cappella.
A good album.
It's available at larrystephensonband.com.
(Email Keith Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org.)