Ross Nickerson Banjo CD Reviews

Let’s Kick It Reviews

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,
Al Shusterman
KCBL Radio
Backroads Bluegrass
5717 Reinhold St.
Fair Oaks, CA 95628
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!!

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’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 “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!
Review by Marilyn Ryan Hulbert

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?
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange /
by Mark S. Tucker

Be a beginning banjo player may not qualify me to play good, however my ears are experts in good Music and ROSS NICKERSON’s album Lets KICK IT is definitively a great choice. I have no connection to Ross other than sending a few dimes in to him every so often for Banjo Supplies and perusing his website on a weekly basis. I was however fortunate to get to meet and talk with him this past weekend at the Marana Blue Grass Festival.

My wife and I braved the cold to see one of our friends, Mark Hickler and Greenwood Sidee and it was just a bonus that Ross Nickerson and X-Train were also in the lineup.

During Ross’ set my wife, not the biggest bluegrass fan was sparked by a song that in Ross’ words “made the banjo sad” that song is called Feeling Low. Doing what every good husband does I bought Lets Kick it and went about enjoying the rest of the festival.

After leaving my wife placed the CD in and we began to listen to the rest of the songs on this album and were completely IMPRESSED.

In this , his latest, Ross ( on banjo of course) is joined by Rob Ickes on the Reso, Shawn Lane on the mando and fiddle, Tim Stafford on the guitar and vocals, and rounding out this great group of musicians in Wayne Taylor on Bass and vocals.

Not knowing what to expect after hearing Feeling Low, i was amazed at how hard driving this Album is. It is a pure joy to listen too, so much so after we got home, I took off on my motorcycle and just go lost in this great example of bluegrass music, led by Ross and his kicked up style.

One word of warning, however If you do not pay attention while listening to this album, there is a good chance you may end up seeing the ole “red and Blues” in your rear view mirror since the banjo is so hard driving that your foot or throttle hand will most certainly be pushing the red line.

The album consists of 14 song mixed with both traditional, originals, and a few Bill Monroe tunes and even a George & Ira Gerswin number.

All in all LETS KICK IT is a GREAT album, by a great artist and group of musicians. Any song, “Feeling Low” that has my wife enjoying bluegrass is nothing short of a miracle and will only help when I ask her for that next banjo!

If you do not have this CD. GET IT! well worth the pocket change to buy!

Submitted by BanjoHangout

Ross Nickerson is not a household name in bluegrass – but he’s a very good banjo picker. It doesn’t take much listening to recognize someone who is a master of the instrument. A quick tour of his website shows a previous affiliation with Pinecastle Records and appearances at workshops around the world. He’s produced a library full of instructional books and DVDs and appears on the east coast with The Fast Brothers.

I can’t find any information on the Internet for Bones Records so I was wondering where readers might pick up this very interesting CD. It is available on Nickerson’s website but then the search took me to Amazon (of course) and what I found there has nothing to do with the quality of the music but does is a weird find. The CD just recently came our way but at Amazon the release date is shown as September, 2009 with the title Let’s Kick Some Ass. Play the CD in Windows Media Player and the pop-up down in the corner that names the song playing comes up with the racier title. Now that’s funny, I don’t care who ya are.

Joining him on the CD is Blue Highway, absent banjo player Jason Burleson. This is an unusual step. While members of most bands regularly appear as guests on various artists’ projects, to bring in an entire band – and no other guests – is something you don’t normally see, even on solo projects by some band’s member. If you’ve ever heard Blue Highway then you know the backup work is excellent. Scott Vestal, no slouch on the banjo himself, did the recording and mixing.

There are two Nickerson originals featured and he proves to be as good a composer as he is a picker. “Roundhouse” is an upbeat tune, the kind when the banjo can especially shine while “Feeling Low” is at a slower tempo but retaining all the drive of “Roundhouse.” “Feeling Low” has a nice, bluesy feel, punched along by Wayne Taylor’s solid bass line.

Most of the selections are familiar, though some are viewed as traditionally belonging to some other instrument. “Wheel Hoss” and “Old Dangerfield” come from Bill Monroe and are associated with the mandolin (though, obviously, the banjo took breaks on them when Monroe played). The old Flatt & Scruggs tune “Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky” isn’t often done as an instrumental but Nickerson’s version is a good listening tune. He did decide to include a vocal track on two numbers. He gives a rousing version of “Little Maggie” with Wayne Taylor on the vocals and an equally upbeat version of “John Henry” featuring Tim Stafford.

A selection I find particularly interesting is the Gershwin melody, “Lady Be Good.” It’s been recorded many times and hails back to the 1924 Broadway show, Lady, Be Good! When you don’t have to worry about lyrics you can do a lot of genre-jumping and still appeal to bluegrass fans. “Jerusalem Ridge,” always a favorite of mine, began life as a fiddle tune (Kenny Baker / Bill Monroe) and Shawn Lane plays an excellent fiddle on this track, as does Rob Ickes on the resophonic guitar and Tim Stafford on a short guitar break. Nickerson plays a faultless lead on banjo.

Great selections, great playing. If you’re a fan of bluegrass instrumentals then you need look no farther for a great CD.

The Lonesome Road Review – By Larry Stephens