Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Larry Sparks, "Green Pastures in the Sky"

Blue Highways TV replayed a "Reno's Old Time Music Festival" episode which featured Larry Sparks and a bass player performing "Green Pastures in the Sky." I read a little more about Larry Sparks.

For those of us who love to hear the blues in our bluegrass guitar, the records and CDs we love to spin frequently bear the name "Larry Sparks." With his heavy, aggressive, dynamic, downstroking attack on that deep, dark, bassy Martin D-28, Larry knows how to make the blues bluer and the lonesome lonelier. He has a unique voice on the guitar and is a true pioneer of the flatpick style of lead guitar in bluegrass. Although he is probably best known as a singer and bandleader, many of today's flatpickers have been influenced by his dynamic, bluesy guitar playing....

Another aspect of Larry's guitar playing that is unique is that on songs like "Smoky Mountain Memories" and "Blue Mountain Memories" he tunes the guitar down two frets to F. In other words, he will loosen all of the strings from standard tuning down two frets and play out of the key of F using standard G position chords. Larry mentioned that he also plays a few songs, like "Rock of Ages" and "Green Pastures in the Sky" in a drop D tuning.

If you ever get a chance to hear Sparks' version, listen to it. It's a little lower than a Ralph Stanley version that I heard on the net tonight (on his 71-73 album), and the guitar solos alone are worth the price of admission. Sparks' version is on "The Rock I Stand On" and "Where the Dim Lights are the Dimmest."


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