It will soon be a century since Ernest Van Stoneman first entered a studio to cut some of the first commercial country music ever recorded for release on phonograph discs. In doing so, he not only launched a music career for himself, but also started a family tradition that persists to this day. By 1926, his wife, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and soon a pair of cousins were assisting him in making recorded music. In 1934, his oldest son was there, too. From then onward future Stoneman children were picking and singing in studios, on stages, before television cameras, and even in motion pictures. While “Pop,” as he came to be called for obvious reasons, passed on in 1968, for his children, now reduced to two, the picking and singing of bluegrass music persists. Patuxent Records has come out with a third compact disc with brand new recordings documenting the music of this remarkable family.
Donna Stoneman, styled the “first lady of the mandolin” and younger sister Veronica (or Roni), the first girl to pick a bluegrass banjo on record, are still at it and in remarkably fine form. They also assembled some quality support musicians for this effort. Bass man Stu Geisbert has worked on their previous Patuxent recordings as well as on Roni’s Bummin’ Around CD. Jeremy Stephens played guitar on their Patsy, Donna & Roni album from 2009 and is back for this one along with his wife, Corrina Rose Logston, on fiddle. As co-leaders of the band High Fidelity, they have one of the best traditional bluegrass bands around. Johnny Bellar who worked with the Stonemans for several years and was a long time musician at Opryland supplies Dobro on “Amazing Grace.” Tom Mindte of Patuxent provides vocal help when a male voice is needed. Casey Driscoll and Eddie Pennington supply extra fiddle and guitar respectively.
2. Rock-A-Bye Boogie
3. He Was There All the Time
4. May I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight
5. Classical Vibrations
6. Sunday Morning Coming Down
7. Amazing Grace
8. Sweet Thang
9. Blue Grass Breakdown
10. Living on the Hallelujah Side