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Circles Around Me

4.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 20, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Sam Bush's eighth solo album and sixth with Sugar Hill, Circles Around Me, is an aurally inspiring mix of bluegrass favorites and complementary new songs. "I don't know why, but it felt right at this moment in my life to go back and revisit some things that I've loved all my life, which is bluegrass and, unapologetically, newgrass," says Bush. "After all these years of experimenting--and there's experimentation on this record too--I've come full circle." Produced by three-time GRAMMY® winner Bush, the 14-song set includes appearances by Del McCoury, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas and, thanks to the discovery of an old demo, New Grass Revival co-founder Courtney Johnson (posthumously). The album also employs the phenomenal talent of Bush's band: Scott Vestal, Stephen Mougin, Byron House and Chris Brown.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 20, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sugar Hill
  • ASIN: B002NULL44
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,214 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Another great disk by Sam. I hesitated to purchase this one, simply because I own all of Sam's disks, & frankly was begining to feel that the creative juices may have begun to run dry just a bit. Don't get me wrong, Laps in Seven & King of My World are fine, fine disks, better than 99.9% of stuff out there, but they seem to be strained a bit at times. It seemed to me - right or wrong - that Sam was straining for a hit.
This one, by contrast, feels completely relaxed. Sam is entirely at home with this material. It is as if he is putting on a comfortable old pair of well worn boots. His pacing is just right. Oh, he can still let it rip, as he does, for instance, in Blue Mountain. But more often than not, he lets the songs set their own pace. On Souveneir Bottles, for instance, first released decades ago on Barren County, he keeps the synchopated style while avoiding the choppiness of the original. Old North Woods has the relaxed feel of the Grisman/Garcia albums, or maybe the Grisman/Rice Pizza Tapes. Gold Heart Locket features Jerry Douglas. My personal favorite is Junior Heywood, which includes not only Flux but the incomparable Edgar Meyer, whose bow work is peerless, as always. I particularly like the way Sam signs off this album, with Apple Blossom, featuring a duet with the late great Courtney Johnson, the aforementioned Souveneir Bottles, & Whisper Your Name, an Ebo Walker tune that harkens all the way back to NGR's very first disk. Of course, his extraordinary band shines throughout. One quibble: the drums are mixed a little high, in my opinion, including on the opening track. But a quibble it is. Any fan of Sam, NGR, or progressive bluegrass - yes, newgrass - ought to pick this up. Don't be a dope like me & forestall any further your enjoyment of this latest musical chapter from Sammy.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Although I don't always agree with all his lyrics, I always enjoy his material. I've got all the Newgrass stuff on vinyl and am a fan of the mandolin.

Speaking of vinyl, the tune "Apple Blossom" was recorded in 1976 and features a duet between Sam on Fiddle and the late Newgrass Revival banjo man Courtney Johnson. It's a short, but sweet instrumental, followed directly, on track 13 with "Souvenir Bottles," which first appeared on their 1979 album "Barren County." This 8+ minute version has a great guitar, banjo, mandolin solo. Sweet.

The title track is a nice mellow piece. "Diamond Joe" starts off like "8 More Miles to Louisville," but is a nice up tempo vocal. "You left me alone" has got some nice banjo/mando work in the context of an upbeat broken-heart song. "The Old North Woods" is a 4 minute sweat instrumental with nice banjo and mandolin lines and a bowed cello adding a bit of extra mellow.

"The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle" is a mournful ballad telling the story of the murder of banjo man David "Stringbean" Akeman and his wife in 1973, as they were shot upon his return home from a gig at the Opry.

Having a soft spot for the mandolin, "Blue Mountain" is a great fast-paced tune with lots of great mando work. Scott Vestal and Stephen Mougin are no slouches on banjo and guitar either!

The rest of the tunes are worthwhile as well. Not a clunker on the disc.

Oh yeah, after the 2:24 last song "Whisper my Name," keep listening for another 30 seconds and you'll be treated to four minutes of Hot Tomales! Enjoy.
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Format: Audio CD
The short review of "Circles Around Me" is this release is newgrass through and through and sounds as much like classic Sam Bush. Never mind the jazz/rock numbers of the past couple CDs, they were good, this music is where Sam's heart lives even it likes to stray from time to time. This release is to be added to "Howlin' At the Moon" and "Glamour and Grits" to the must haves in the Sam Bush library. Every track, from the instrumentals that are bit more progressive, to the Monroe covers are worthy of many listens. It's good the King has found his way back home.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I was privilaged to meet Mr. Bush in Kentucky at First Quality Music Store in 2005. I play the mandolin and was interested in his Gibson signature Mandolin. I love his music wish I had the opportunity to see him live and more often. Seems like a wonderful young man and well accomplished musician
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Format: Audio CD
What did you expect from Sam Bush? A poorly-produced album of predictable hooey? Nope, just the same old toe-tappers interspersed with the occasional heartfelt ballad or dramatic story tune. There's some humor, tons of passion, and the productional value is sky high as per usual. Just buy it, you're nodding your head, so buy it already!
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
If you like Sam Bush's other albums, you will dig this one as well. It's a good blend of instrumentals, ballads, gospel, and everything in between, all with Sam's "newgrass" twist and famous driving mandolin playing.
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Format: Audio CD
Whether you like bluegrass or not, Sam Bush is an amazing musician whose music transcends the bluegrass format - a hint of folk, a dash of rock. He is a master of the mandolin, which generally takes a back seat in Circles Around Me. Instead, the tunes here are a mix of bluegrass and mellow rock, showcasing the band and songs, not necessarily Bush's brilliant musicianship.

GENRES: Progressive Bluegrass, Mellow Rock.

BUY IF YOU LIKE: Bluegrass music, Bela Fleck, Garcia/Grisman.

MUST HEAR TRACKS: For Mellow Rock - "Circles Around Me" & "Gold Heart Locket;" for Bluegrass - "Roll On Buddy, Roll On" & "Diamond Joe."
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