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Thirtieth Anniversary Special

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 15, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

For three decades now, the beloved Dry Branch Fire Squad has been a bastion of mountain soul, bluegrass, and old-time music - carrying timeless traditions into the modern era with a blend of reverence, soul, and wit all their own. This special edition thirtieth anniversary collection is designed to complement Rounder's previous Dry Branch anthology, Tried and True (Rounder 11519), and contains material (some previously unreleased) recorded in the twenty years since that collection's release. Under the stewardship of Ron Thomason, Dry Branch Fire Squad has weathered the storms on the sea of time, all to forge an iron-clad brand of defiantly rugged old-time and traditional bluegrass music that imparts essential reminders of the past while unafraid to meet the future head-on.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 15, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: May 15, 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder
  • ASIN: B000OLHFR6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,912 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Ross on May 19, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Playing Time - 63:24 -- In the course of a lifetime, turning thirty may bring a few aches and pains. A band achieving that milestone may also experience similar ailments that also come with musical maturity. Back in 1971, mandolinist Ron Thomason was picking with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley were also his bandmates. From Springfield, Ohio, The Dry Branch Fire Squad formed in 1976 and took its name from a small town in Virginia (where Ron was born). The band's successful longevity has been attributed to their raw, mountain-style vocals and Thomason's wry humor as an emcee and storyteller. Until retiring in 1999, Ron was an English and math teacher and junior high assistant principal.

Their ninth album on Rounder Records, this heartfelt 30th anniversary collection only draws material from the label's releases since 1989. The reason is that there was a previous band anthology, "Tried and True," (Rounder 11519) released in 1987. Would it have been better for a 30-year album to also draw material from all three decades, and from as far back as their three pre-Rounder LPs from the 1977-78 timeframe? While their Rounder material has been superior to their earliest recordings, it would've been exciting to document all 30 years with a couple songs like Out on the Blue Ridge Mountain from their earliest 1977 "Live at the Crying Cowboy Concert Saloon" LP (RT-513). Also, the early days of the band emphasized basic, mournful, sensitive vocal duet arrangements with Ron Thomason and tenor John Baker (fiddler Kenny Baker's son). You'll need to get DBFS's 1979, 1981 or 1982 Rounder albums ("Born to be Lonesome," "Antiques and Inventions," or "Fannin' the Flames") to experience them together. Or to hear some of Thomason's originals like "Dak's Song" or "Oh!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For anyone who has never heard the Dry Branch Fire Squad in person or on CD's, try them out. I saw them in 2003 at Merlefest in North Wilkesboro, NC and they are my favorite group from the years I've attended. They have some great videos on YouTube that people can check out. This CD has some classics! Their early and recent recordings still produce the same great sounds.
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This album has been on my player since it arrived, replacing the previous DBFS's Live at the Newburyport Firehouse double album. The harmony is just beautiful to listen to, the old-tyme songs are a joy to hear (and sing along with). I would recommend it to all who are looking for bluegrass music. This selection of music has none of Ron Thomason's story-telling segments, however -- 100% pure music. I LOVE it! If I could, I would give it 6 stars! Simply outstanding!
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Dry Branch Fire Squad gets under your skin like no other bluegrass group I've ever heard. Hearing Ron Thomason's voice is an electrifying and emotional journey each time. Add to that his artistry on the mandolin and the talent of his fellow band members and you have music that grabs country and urban souls alike. This album is a great retrospective of their work and is the first to include songs from the current all-time-best line up of Ron, Brian Aldridge, Dan Russell and Tom Boyd. Their harmonies are exquisite. The song, "He's Coming to Us Dead", is worth buying this album all on its own. Ron sings every word of this emotional and patriotic song from the depths of his heart. It's sadness is ultimately a work of art and focuses on the sacrifices our military families make all too often. "Rollin on Rubber Wheels" is an upbeat, energetic counterbalance. And don't miss "Over in the Glory Land", one of many great, strong gospel songs on this disc. Told you all that to tell you this ... buy this album along with "Live at the Newburyport Firehouse" and you'll have the very best of Dry Branch's studio and live work.
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I discovered this band several years ago and have purchased several of their releases. In my opinion, they are perhaps one of the best Bluegrass bands out there- offering a crisp,refreshing yet traditional sound in Bluegrass.
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