Don Rigsby – The Midnight Call
Rigsby has released three solo albums. His first, “A Vision,” won the Association of Independent Music’s “gospel album of the year” award and was nominated for an IBMA award. He received the 1999 Bluegrass Now Magazine Fan’s Choice Award for vocal tenor of the year and the 2001 Governor’s Kentucky Star Award. “Empty Old Mailbox,” the title track from his third album, won the 2001 Song of the Year award from SPGBMA.
In 2001, Don Rigsby became the first full-time director of Morehead State University’s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music, an innovative program designed to preserve and promote traditional music in all forms, including programs for schools and a minor in Traditional Music at MSU. He was instrumental in the founding of “Bluegrass ‘n More: A Celebration of Appalachian Heritage,” an annual early June festival in Morehead that features Bluegrass, gospel, and other forms of mountain music as well as folk art, fine art, writing workshops, lectures, and exhibitions of Appalachian cultural innovations. Don teaches vocal harmony classes for the traditional music minor, and coordinates classes, workshops, concerts, and school tours by new and old stars of traditional music.
Don Rigsby’s “two best friends in the business” are Dixie and Tom T. Hall, who not only provided “Empty Old Mailbox” but also “The Midnight Call,” the title track from his newest project for Sugar Hill Records.
The new CD is a “logical extension” from the “Mailbox” album, with some returning characters and some new ones, with meticulous attention to the selection of material and finding “songs that I can sing.”
“I make my solo records for me,” says Rigsby. “I’m my own toughest critic, and I’m not bound to hardcore Bluegrass. If I suit me, my fans will reap the benefits.”
“I’ll always do Bluegrass, with Rock County and Longview, but my solo work bridges the gap between contemporary and traditional styles.”
1. Those Gambler's Blues - 3:17 2. The Midnight Call - 3:40 3. Carved Our Names in Stone - 3:16 4. Blood on My Hands - 4:18 5. Dying to Hold Her Again - 3:31 6. Muddy Water - 4:06 7. What Lays Down the Road - 3:30 8. Green Briar River - 2:58 9. Green Ivy Vine - 3:11 10. Look Out Below - 2:40 11. Come in out of the Rain - 3:15 12. Little White Cross Out on Highway 13 - 3:44 13. I've Already Turned That Page - 2:58 14. [Untitled Hidden Track] 1:24
Don Rigsby (guitar, mandolin, vocals) , Jeff White / Jim Hurst (guitar) , Randy Kohrs (resonator & slide guitar) , Ron Rigsby / Rob McCoury / Carl Jackson (banjo) , Stuart Duncan / Glen Duncan (fiddle, violin) , Vassar Clements (fiddle) , Kirk ‘Jellyroll’ Johnson (harmonica) , Ben Isaacs (bass) , Kenny Malone (percussion) , Ronnie Bowman / Jerry Salley (baritone & tenor vocals)
1. AllMusic - Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.
Don Rigsby kicks off The Midnight Call with a gutsy, high-lonesome version of Jimmie Rodgers' "Those Gambler's Blues." His no-holds vocal, backed by a spunky band that includes fiddler Stuart Duncan and slide guitarist Randy Kohrs, just about jumps out of the speakers. The choice of a lesser-known Rodgers piece is also a smart one. If The Midnight Call disappoints at all, it's because most of what follows, as good as it is, fails to match the energy of the opener. The follow-up track, "The Midnight Call," cozies up much closer to contemporary bluegrass, sounding like a country hybrid that's knocked the rougher edges off traditional music. This impression is reinforced with "Carved Our Names in Stone," a song that wouldn't be out of place on country radio or as a CMT video. Rigsby's an intense singer, and this shows through even on a mid-paced ballad like "Blood on My Hands." He delivers each lyric with convincing emotion and his highs are always piercingly clear. In fact, his voice leads back to great tenors like Bill Monroe and Bobby Osborne. Too often, however, he submerges this powerful tool for a more subdued, radio-friendly twang. The Midnight Call will please old Rigsby fans and will undoubtedly receive lots of radio play, but traditional bluegrass fans will be left wishing for more red meat.
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