The Amazing Rhythm Aces (#102)

The veteran band serves up a unique country-rock blend of “American music.”

More than 25 years ago, six young musicians gathered in a Memphis studio to create music that didn’t fit easily into any single category—part country-style storytelling with a soulful groove and part world-wise poetry with a down-home delivery. To the Amazing Rhythm Aces, it’s simply “American music.” The group brings this time-tested, genre-spanning blend to Jubilee in a performance taped at the 2000 Master Musicians Festival in Somerset, KY.

After creating scores of influential hits, including “Third Rate Romance” and the Grammy-winning “The End Is Not in Sight,” the Aces disbanded in 1981. Their songs lived on as radio staples, though, and in 1995 the original band members teamed up to record Ride Again, a collection of their best-known material. The album enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive response with old and new fans alike, sparking a full-fledged comeback.

Re-invigorated after its nearly 15-year hiatus, the band—original members Jeff “Stick” Davis, James Hooker, Billy Earheart, and Russell Smith, as well as some new players—has since released several CDs. Chock Full of Country Goodness (1998) spotlights Smith’s uniquely rich songwriting and the kind of soul-stirring playing that has kept Aces fans loyal for more than two decades, while Live in Switzerland (1999) and Absolutely Live (2000) capture the energy of the band’s hard-driving performances.