No Part of Nothin’
Bluegrass Heritage Music
4 stars (out of 5)
By Larry Stephens
Who is Alan Tompkins?
Alan is a Kentuckian transplanted to Texas where he works as a lawyer. He is also the founder and president of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, an organization whose mission is to “… preserve and promote the heritage of bluegrass music in America, with a focus on promoting bluegrass music in Texas.”
There are cuts from this CD that will go straight to my favorites folder for listening on my iPad. Of the twelve songs on the CD there’s only one I would cut out, and in great part that’s because I rank Marty Robbins as one of the best ever and I like his version as a ballad rather than an uptempo song like Alan does it here. Back in 1966 Marty had a hit with “Count Me Out,” composed by Jeanne Pruett (then the wife of Marty’s guitar player) before she rose to fame.
The list of session musicians is a good one. Kenny & Amanda Smith add their talents as do Randy Kohrs on the resophonic guitar. Greg Cahill and Ned Luberecki are two well-known banjoists appearing on the CD.
Gerald Jones plays mandolin on several cuts, with Sam Bush appearing on others. Gerald and Alan co-wrote two of the songs. “Blue Kentucky Waltz” is a traditional-sounding waltz number that includes Ron Stewart doing quadruple duty on fiddles, banjo and guitar. Alan proves a good singer with a voice for ballads more than the down-home sound of Dan Tyminski. They also co-wrote “No Part Of Nothin’ Blues” and Alan shows off his URB skills. This is a flowing, swing blues number that keeps your toes tapping while you have visions of couples on a dimly lit, smoky dance floor. Great stuff.
Speaking of waltzes, “Shenandoah Waltz” has always been one of my favorites and Ron Stewart’s fiddles make the perfect backdrop for this number. Also in the traditional theme is “Angelina Baker” (aka “Angeline the Baker”) and “More Pretty Girls Than One” as well as the slightly time-worn “Lonesome Road Blues,” all good, traditional bluegrass music that’s well-played here.
On the gospel side he offers a driving “This World Is Not My Home” and “I’ve Been Redeemed” from the pen of Rick Lang. My favorite, though, is “Farther Along” with harmony vocals by Kenny & Amanda Smith. Stephen Mougin, who has worked with Bush and Lubereski, plays the guitar with Mike Bub (formerly with the Del McCoury band and once appearing with Phish) on the URB and Nate Lee on fiddle.
Traditional certainly describes “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome”, composed by Bill Monroe and Hank Williams, though he sounds more like Hank than Bill in this version (though not like Phish), but he goes off the bluegrass grid with his version of Dire Straits’ “When It Comes To You.” He may be off the grid, but he sure makes it work and it’s one of the best numbers on the CD.
While Tompkins may not try to combine careers as a lawyer and traveling bluegrass musician like Charlie Sizemore has, he’s put out a more-than-credible CD and it’s worth a listen by anyone who likes bluegrass music. You won’t be disappointed.