Jay Armsworthy became an acquaintance over 30 years ago, and now, I've called him a friend for many years. We have much in common because my home base in southwestern Ohio has a rich bluegrass heritage similar to the neighborhood where Jay Armsworthy and Eastern Tradition reside.
The bluegrass music produced in the Baltimore and Washington DC region, and bluegrass cultivated in the Cincinnati and Dayton area are foundational to the genre. Presently, many of today's artists draw inspiration from the legendary musicians who inspired thousands from the smoky barrooms, fire halls and festivals in Maryland and Ohio. It's a sound certainly in the DNA of Jay Armsworthy and the guys in Eastern Tradition.
The winning combination of traditional bluegrass songs and country classics with a grassy treatment make this collection enjoyable. Jay is a strong leader vocally, and with his powerful guitar work on rhythm, lead and tasteful backup. I like Jay's vocal work on the gospel classic "I Call It Home" and it's a treat to hear Jay and bluegrass veteran Leon Morris together throughout the album, especially their soaring duet arrangements. The band represents the traditions of their famous forefathers of their region well. The banjo and mandolin work in the opening track immediately reminded me of the great instrumental work of the Country Gentlemen 50 years ago. And like Cliff Waldron, Buzz Busby, Del McCoury and others, this group tackles all types of tunes, songs and subjects. From "The Needle", a deep, dark old Hylo Brown song about addiction, to a couple of selections showcasing Jay's love of dogs - it's all here. Well done old friend!