The Bluegrass Strangers/Unlimited Tradition (#114)

Two young bands bring their tradition-based brands of bluegrass to the stage.


Unlimited Tradition and the Bluegrass Strangers, two bluegrass bands whose members include both Kentucky natives and current residents, bring their brands of classic bluegrass to Jubilee. The performances were taped at the 1997 Carter County Shrine Club Bluegrass Festival in Olive Hill, KY.

The music begins with the traditional sounds of the Bluegrass Strangers, featuring Kenny Vanderpool on mandolin, Paul Matthews on bass, Jim Lykins on guitar, Ralph Smith on guitar, and Dick Webb on banjo. Selections include “My Walking Shoes,” “Little Cabin Home on the Hill,” “Sittin’ on Top of the World,” “Travelin’ the Highway Home,” and an instrumental number called “Please Come Home.”

The toe-tapping sounds continue with the award-winning Unlimited Tradition, one of the most exciting bluegrass bands of the 1990s. This Kentucky-based touring group, whose first album on Doobie Shae Records was entitled She’s Gone, won the prestigious Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) International Band Championship in 1996. Unlimited Tradition is made up of banjo player John Lewis, mandolin player Shayne Bartley, bass player Jason Hale, and guitarists Ray Craft and Scotty Sparks.

They showcase their vocal harmonies and instrumental skills on such songs as “One Step Ahead of the Blues,” an instrumental called “Swing Ding,” “Heart Full of Pain,” “I Know What It Means To Be Lonesome,” and “Little Maggie.” The band closes the show with “Bootleg John.”