Young looking even for 17, Garrett Newton is well on his way to making a name for himself in the bluegrass community with his first solo release Young Heart Old Soul. He's been playing banjo since he was ten, when he started hanging out at the Beaver Creek Music Hall near his hometown of Benson, in rural Johnson County, North Carolina. In his progression to learning the banjo, he took lessons from Steve Dilling, longtime five-stringer for IIIrd Tyme Out.
Newton also spends time playing with Lorraine Jordan (of Carolina Road). Jordan has returned the favor by joining Newton on his project on bass, and serving as his agent and producer. Daniel Aldridge fills the mandolin role and vocals; Allen Dyer plays guitar and sings lead; and Parks Icenhour plays lead guitar and bass vocals. Guests include Ron Stewart on fiddle; Jason Moore on Bass; and Heather Berry on vocals.
The CD offers some fine picking all around, but the banjo work shines. THe vocals and production values are topnotch. There are plenty of opportunities for Newton to shine on classic tunes such as "Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me," "Farewell Blues," "Take This Hammer," and "Bells of saint Mary." Gordon Lightfoot's "Redwood Hill" is tracked, as is the IIIrd Tyme Out hit "I Ain't Broke (But I'm Badly Bent)." Jordan penned "Last Hanging Of Wise County."
Listeners will recognize and enjoy a lot on this opening salvo from a banjo player that is certainly going to make some noise, no pun intended. It sets a high bar for a follow-up album. (Pinecastle Music, 2514 River Rd. Ste 105, Piedmont, NC 29673, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)MKB