Review of Ross Nickerson’s Latest CD, Let’s Kick It. recorded with members of critically acclaimed bluegrass band “Blue Highway” engineered by Scott Vestal.
Nickerson is everywhere, performing, teaching, and spreading the word about bluegrass banjo. He is known as the banjo teacher and here he proves he can also dig in and get-r-done on the five.
With able assistance from Rob Ickes on resonator guitar, Shawn Lane on mandolin nd fiddle, Tim Strafford on guitar, and Wayne Taylor on bass, we are treated to a first-rate program of mostly bluegrass instrumentals. They groove on “Cluck Old Hen” with almost a rockabilly beat, swing it out on “Lady Be Good,” and nail such standards as “Wheel Hoss,” “Kentucky Mandolin,” “Dixie Hoedown,” and “John Henry.” There are a couple of cuts with vocals, “John Henry” and “Little Maggie.”
Don’t get caught driving when cuts like “Roundhouse” and “Bluegrass Breakdown” (sic_ come on, you are bound to get picked up for speeding. These cuts drive without mercy. “Jerusalem Ridge” is handled with skill and Ickes does the near impossible, cutting it up on his instrument.With able assistance from Rob Ickes on resonator guitar, Shawn Lane on mandolin nd fiddle, Tim Strafford on guitar, and Wayne Taylor on bass, we are treated to a first-rate program of mostly bluegrass instrumentals. They groove on “Cluck Old Hen” with almost a rockabilly beat, swing it out on “Lady Be Good,” and nail such standards as “Wheel Hoss,” “Kentucky Mandolin,” “Dixie Hoedown,” and “John Henry.” There are a couple of cuts with vocals, “John Henry” and “Little Maggie.”
Don’t get caught driving when cuts like “Roundhouse” and “Bluegrass Breakdown” (sic_ come on, you are bound to get picked up for speeding. These cuts drive without mercy. “Jerusalem Ridge” is handled with skill and Ickes does the near impossible, cutting it up on his instrument.
continued. Even if Nickerson weren’t that good a banjo player, he has surrounded himself with highly capable individuals. It is good to hear Strafford dig into his guitar and rip off some compelling licks. Lane’s mandolin drives and cuts with precision. His fiddling is direct and sure. But Nickerson is that good of a banjo player and this project sizzles from the first note to the last.
This 14-cut program is a delight to the ears and should please all fans of good, hard-driving bluegrass. Nickerson demonstrates that it is not all about how hard you drive, but how well you play the melody on “Don’t The Road Look Rough And Rocky” and “Feeling Low.” This is a must-have for all of those who follow his teaching or just want to see the range of music that can be played in the bluegrass style. *************************************
ROSS NICKERSON CD REVIEW
Hear sound clips of Let’s Kick It
This “incredibly hot” banjo project must have been filled with jet fuel the way it took off after I started playing it. The pulsating sound of Ross Nickerson’s banjo could be felt the entire time this project was playing. The song selection contained tried & trued traditional bluegrass songs with a sprinkling of his original songs & a well known pop song. He has given “new life” to many of these classics. This the the type of project that will appeal to both “bluegrass banjo junkies” & novices too. Kudos to the members of Blue Highway. They did a superb job!! What a wonderful way to start the New Year. I played the entire project, & I had a hard time keeping up with my request lines!! With this project Ross has KICKED THE BAR HIGHER than other musicians. I know I will be carrying this project with me for many weeks to come. A listener favorite!!
Thank you for sharing this fine project with us,
Cordially, Al Shusterman
P.S. Please put me on your mailing list for future projects. Also, in the liner notes you mentioned several other projects. They are Blazing The West (Pinecastle 2003), Ultimate Banjo Compilation (Pinecastle), & Evolultion on Bones Records. If they are available I know my listeners would love to hear them!!
LET’S KICK IT
Reviewed by Marilyn Ryan Hulbert
Banjoteacher.com – Rossnickerson.com
Ross’s new album is on fire!!! I listened on my car CD player and forgot which road I was traveling – I couldn’t think of anything but the clarity of the notes, the quality of Scott Vestal’s recording at Digital Underground, the originality infused into the tunes, and the bluegrass tempos – the music we crave that energizes us and makes us feel good – the flying fingers and picks on every tune. Ross is an amazing banjo player! Helping him show off his talent are none other than Rob Ickes on resophonic guitar, Shawn Lane playing mandolin and fiddle. Tim Stafford on guitar and vocals. and Wayne Taylor on bass and vocals. Wayne Taylor sang a “Little Maggie” to tear you heart out!
Roundhouse is the 1st cut – written by Ross. Then Cluck Old Hen. There are 4 Bill Monroe tunes played like you’ve never heard them before! Kentucky Mandolin, Old Dangerfield, Bluegrass Breakdown, and Wheel Hoss.
Ross Nickerson plays another of his called “Feeling Low”. I promise you will not feel one low moment when listening to this album!
Lady Be Good”, written by George and Ira Gershwin is fantastically beautiful! “Don’t This Road look Rough and Rocky – don’t even need the words when these folks play. John Henry is the last of the 14 cuts. I believe Tim Stafford sings it, but can’t be sure – the notes didn’t say. Whether Wayne or Tim, it is just great!
Powerful, perfect pickin’ by every musician on this CD and…
seriously….. if you love banjo, mandolin, guitar and fiddle music and love fast, clean, inventive, beautiful, bluegrass music, if you only add one album to your collection this year….. this is the one!!!! Ross Nickerson’s “Let’s Kick It” is the hottest music that has come down the Bluegrass Pike in a long time!
….Ross, There is no way you would remember this, but we met at IBMA over 6 years ago. I’m not sure how you located me but I am glad you did. I just finished listening to your new CD (Let’s Kick It). Wow! It’s super and it will get a lot of play on my weekly radio program. By the way, Monroe’s recording of Kentucky Mandolin is my theme song. Keep up the great work. I’ll try to remember to send you a playlist when one of your track is played.
Bob Mitchell (Radio Bluegrass International and WKWC-FM)
….Ross, Our local public radio station, KNBA, has a 2 hour bluegrass show on Wednesday nights (Borealis Bluegrass, guaranteed to make get up and holler or breakdown and cry). They have played a couple numbers from Kick it and gave you a long raving review tonight. The disc IS incredible. Also I bought a beginner banjo from you this fall and have been having a fantastic time (if a bit frustrating) learning the banjo. I am still working out of the beginners book and have a long track to success, but I appreciate your teaching method a lot. Thanks, macgill
FAME Review: Ross Nickerson – Let’s Kick It
Let’s Kick It
Bones Records – #BR-3181
Available from Ross Nickerson’s online store.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange / acousticmusic.com
by Mark S. Tucker
(firstname.lastname@example.org).Ross Nickerson isn’t just a great banjo player but a world-renowned picker, so much so that he’s written an extremely well received tome Bluegrass Banjo Encyclopedia from A to Z, issued two instructional DVDs, and printed up a couple of books of tablature transcription, one covering this release, the other of a past disc, Blazing the West. Hence, you’re not just looking at a cat who can pluck the bejeezus out of them thar five strings, Leroy, but someone who shows everyone else how to do it as well. That tells ya something.
More, Nickerson gathered up a quartet of gents just as spic ‘n span ultra-clean and dexterous as he (you may already know them as Blue Highway), the entire fivesome barnstorming through 14 well-chosen tracks, some trad, some standards, two written by Ross. Rob Ickes on Resophonic guitar is a stand-out, but Shawn Lane (mandolin, fiddle) and Tim Stafford (guitar, vox) match him step for step with Wayne Taylor racing alongside, oft wielding a swingin’ tub-thumping bass. Every inch of Let’s Kick It is exactly what its title implies, true heel-kickin’ Appalachian joy, unrestrained delight in zesty melodies, and swirling variations by a passel o’ players determined not to let a measure go by that they can’t cram full of intertwining notes.
The slightly slower numbers, such as Bill Monroe’s Wheel Hoss, allow a bit more inspection of nuance and intonation, not to mention a chance to somewhat catch one’s breath, but the effect is just as dazzling: pure sterling musicianship no matter how you cut it. Lordamighty but this is good stuff! Put aside the coffee and Jolt Cola before throwing it on the player, though, or you’ll barely be able to contain yourself, turning somersaults, high steppin’, and hollering’ to beat glory. Mind and body will exult thuswise, but that doctor feller may have to give you a sedative and folks’ll talk, so best to smile and do a jig in the living room. We don’t want to create a ruckus, now do we?