J.D. Crowe, Blackjack

Jon Weisberger

By Jon Weisberger

on 04.22.11 in Reviews


J.D. Crowe
Hard-as-nails bluegrass honed on the mean streets of Lexington, Kentucky.

A member of Jimmy Martin's classic Sunny Mountain Boys lineup in the late '50s, banjo player Crowe returned to his native Lexington, KY, in the early '60s and built a hard-as-nails bluegrass sound in the city's clubs. By the end of the decade, when Blackjack (originally titled Ramblin'Boy) was recorded, his Kentucky Mountain Boys were a supremely tight traditional ensemble that nevertheless reached out to include originals, mainstream country hits (“I'm So Afraid of Losing You Again”), folk favorites (“Ramblin'Boy”), then-new country-rock material (“Sin City”) by the likes of Gram Parsons and more alongside staples from Flatt & Scruggs, delivered with a stout, in-your-face vocal trio. In addition to Crowe, the group that made this album included mandolin player and singer Doyle Lawson, who would go on to become one of the most influential figures in the second 30 years of bluegrass.