New 'Celticgrass' album sounds great

Down The Old Plank Road: The Nashville Sessions
The Chieftains

Forty years. Forty albums. And The Chieftains, the ultimate Irish folk band, just keep getting better.

This isn't technically bluegrass. It's Celticgrass � a blending of the green grass of Ireland and the bluegrass of America.

But it's one of the best � and most infectious � albums you'll hear this year.

Paddy Maloney, Kevin Conneff, Derek Bell, Matt Molloy and Sean Keane add their uilleann pipes, tin whistles, bodhrans, fiddles, bones, harps and flutes to Ricky Skaggs' mandolin, Earl Scruggs' banjo and Del McCoury's soulful tenor.

From the title cut featuring John Hiatt, Bela Fleck, Jeff White and Tim O'Brien to the 10-minute-plus all-star finale, "Give The Fiddler A Dram," there's not a bad cut on the album.

And if this show hits the road, don't miss it.

No Other Way
Mountain Heart

Is this band really only 4 years old?

Mountain Heart burst on the scene in 1998 and captured emerging artist of the year honors from the International Bluegrass Music Assn. one year later. This year, it's nominated for several honors including best vocal group.

And "No Other Way" shows you why.

Barry Abernathy's a cappella gospel version of the traditional "Tedious and Tasteless" is chill-raising. And Adam Steffey shines on Gulley and Jim Van Cleve's Western saga, "Big Sky."

But Mountain Heart is not just a vocal band. There are two fine instrumentals � Van Cleve's " Real Time" and the traditional "Lee Highway Blues."

Another great album.

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