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Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, and Ricky Skaggs 

The Three Pickers (Rounder)

The three artists billed on this live CD have 208 years between them. Bluegrass fans will be familiar with most of the songs ("A Soldier's Joy," "Banks of the Ohio," etc.). No doubt these fellows have recorded all of them -- maybe several times. So how does this album grab you and refuse to let you go? Perhaps it's the live setting: a casual scene in Scruggs's North Carolina home territory. More likely, it's something as simple as a trio of music masters stomping the living daylights out of these songs.

The concert that spawned this CD was filmed for a public television special -- likely one of those fund-raisers in which the program is interrupted for an eternity, while your local station bigwigs lay a major guilt trip on you. But things like The Three Pickers make all their begging worthwhile. Where's the checkbook?

More by Steve Byrne

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