Ice Caps: Peaks Of Telluride

Sam Bush

Sugar Hill Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


I begin to wonder if this job of mine will ever be done. Every time I think I've identified every artist worthy of my time, consideration and hard-earned pocket change, somebody comes along who I have to consider as being damned entertaining. Therefore, I shall begin this review by blaming Sam Bush for not having brought himself to my attention sooner, because he's an utter joy to listen to. It's his fault. That said…my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Ice Caps is one of the most energetic, delightful, and infectious live albums I've ever heard. Bush, one of the founding members of seminal newgrass band the New Grass Revival, has been appearing at Telluride's Bluegrass Festival since the mid-seventies, and even after the band broke up, he kept coming back. Bush has played every Saturday night at Telluride for over twenty-five years. Ice Caps is in may ways a "best of Telluride" album, thus the secondary title; recordings on this disc range from 1992 to 1999.

And what recordings they are. There are the traditional songs - Bill Monroe's "Big Mon" played with Bush on mandolin and Bela Fleck on banjo. More than that, though, there are the pop and rock and folk songs run through Bush's Patented Bluegrassifier, coming out even more delightful; Bob Dylan's "Girl Of The North Country", John Hiatt's "Memphis In The Meantime", Leon Russell's "I Put A Spell On You", and in a truly brain-breaking moment, Kool and the Gang's "Celebration". (It works. Don't ask me how.)

Bush and company aren't too bad at blues, either, as witnessed by a tasty teardown on Sonny Landreth's "Speak Of The Devil". Heck, I could probably find something nice to say about every track on this CD, and you could read them all and nod knowingly, but save us both the time and just go buy the damned thing. You'd get yourself some good music, you'd discover the fun that is Sam Bush, and you'd support Sugar Hill Records, who are rapidly moving their way into my personal divine hierarchy for giving half a damn about American traditional music in a day and age when most people think Shania Twain is country music. (Yechhh.)

Ice Caps is a romp with Bush and his friends, and one of those rare recordings where it's plain just how much fun a musician is having. It comes definitely recommended.

Rating: A

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© 2001 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sugar Hill Records, and is used for informational purposes only.