Rhonda Vincent and The Rage
“All The Rage”
Upper Management Records
Rhonda Vincent has been a solid voice of bluegrass music since the 1970’s. She first performed with a family band (The Sally Mountain Show), before setting out on her own. Her career took a country turn for a few years, but she’s mostly a bluegrass artist these days, and bluegrass music is the beneficiary.
Although early on Ms. Vincent was a solo act; she’s found her voice (literally and figuratively) fronting The Rage. Anyone who has seen her live show knows that she can tear it up, whilst remaining true to mountain music sensibility. She’s also a traditionalist, sporting the sponsorship of the Martha White Flour Company “Goodness Gracious, It’s Good”) which was part of the Flatt and Scruggs road experience for many years.
“All The Rage” is a live set, nicely capturing her stage show, and showcasing the musicianship of not only Vincent, but her estimable Rage-mates. From the opening trickle-down banjo line (which then launches into a full-on rendition of “Muleskinner Blues”) to the tight harmonies of “ Run Mississippi”, the band demonstrates stout command of the material. Ms. Vincent’s phrasing is remarkable for its sureness and empathy, most notably on “Missouri Moon” and “I’ve Forgotten You”.
The audio collection is a companion piece to a DVD of the same concert, in May 2015 at the Bethel Performing Arts Center in Northwestern Tennessee. Although Vincent’s voice always commands attention, the Rage members all get a turn in the spotlight.
“All The Rage” admirably displays the ebb and flow of a bust-out stage show, and it’s best listened to start to finish. In that way, the listener settles into the outstanding mountain harmonies of “Midnight Angel”, say, before being launched into a scorching banjo instrumental (“Wow Baby”) displaying some daring licks from Aaron McDaris. To the same effect, not surprisingly, is “All About The Banjo”. Josh McWilliams, guitar/mandolin and vocals, left The Rage for a while, but has returned, and his singing complements Vincent’s with intensity and tone, as does the voice of Dobro player Mickey Harris
Williams’ turn on “Freeborn Man”, a bluegrass staple, is well executed and true to the form. It takes both confidence and nerve to invite comparisons to Tony Rice, but Williams is up to the challenge. There’s a strong theme of bluegrass gospel toward the end of the set (“You Don’t Love God If You Don’t Love Your Neighbor” and “Old Rugged Cross”), but the devotional tunes never turn treacly.
In all, “All The Rage” nicely delivers the listeners to the sweet spots of a Rhonda Vincent Show. That’s encouraging and entertaining. “All The Rage” is all that and more.