Smoky Mountain Christmas (Raymond Fairchild)

Raymond Fairchild
Smoky Mountain Christmas
Rural Rhythm RHY-290

I confess it’s a little disconcerting to be listening to Christmas favorites as the season turns to summer, but such is the timing of the music business. And it seems that dang-near every country-music artist has to record a CD of holiday tunes, so it only seems right that bluegrass artists ought to join in the fun.

Raymond Fairchild has put together a tasteful all-instrumental collection of seasonal music. While perhaps best-known for entertaining tricks and gimmick licks on the banjo, Fairchild is also a talented and imaginative banjo player when he plays it straight and, for the most part, straight is how he plays it on Smoky Mountain Christmas.

You get fourteen familiar favorites here with no surprises except the fun arrangements. One might not have expected that it would be possible to play Silent Nighton the banjo without at least a little smirk, but Fairchild and the other pickers stick close to the melody. From lively tunes like Frosty the Snowman and Here Comes Santa Claus to hymns like Away in the Manger and Joy to the World, this is a recording that will stand up well among the usual holiday fare. It’ll be in my CD changer from Thanksgiving until New Year’s.


Rural Rhythm, Box 660040, Dept. D, Arcadia, CA 91066-0040
Published in Bluegrass Unlimited, September 2004. Used with permission.