Jim Lauderdale, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys

For a mountain music fan, it wouldn’t get any cooler than recruiting Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys as your backup band. So it must be for ace Americana country songwriter Jim Lauderdale, who gets to hear Stanley’s otherworldly high tenor stack up behind his own vocals on 13 choice originals—some co-written with Shawn Camp, Candace Randolph and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter—and a Bill Monroe cover. Factor in James Alan Shelton’s tasty flat-picked guitar lines, John Rigsby’s mandolin, Steve Sparkman’s fiddle, Jack Cooke’s bass and the rhythm guitar of Ralph Stanley II, plus some swell harmony vocals, and you have yourself a fine set of waltzes and foursquare bluegrass numbers. If you’re not of a mind that the best place for a banjo player is on the bottom of the ocean, this will surely make you smile.