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Bluegrass Maestro Tony Rice's "Church Street Blues" to Be Reissued

It's a AAA Vinyl Project, Mastered By Kevin Gray

Craft Recordings celebrates bluegrass icon Tony Rice with a special vinyl reissue of his long-out-of-print classic, Church Street Blues. The acclaimed 1983 album finds the GRAMMY® Award-winning guitarist, singer and songwriter interpreting an eclectic selection of modern and traditional folk songs, including Norman Blake’s “Church Street Blues,” Tom Paxton’s “Last Thing on My Mind” and Bob Dylan’s “One More Night.” An intimate, largely solo outing, Church Street Blues showcases Rice’s prowess on the guitar, as well as his versatility as a performer.


Set for release on April 5, 2024, and available for pre-order today, Church Street Blues has been cut from the original master tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI. A limited edition transparent red pressing will also be available exclusively via Vinyl Me, Please. Additionally, the album will make its debut in stunning HD digital audio.


One of the most revered names in bluegrass, Tony Rice (1951–2020) shaped the sound of the genre during his lengthy career, while his distinctive touch on the guitar influenced countless others. Born in Virginia and raised in Los Angeles, Rice launched his career in Louisville, KY, where he became the lead vocalist and guitarist of J.D. Crowe’s legendary bluegrass group, The New South. In the mid-’70s, not long after the release of their self-titled bestseller (featuring Jerry Douglas and Ricky Skaggs), Rice returned to California to join David Grisman’s esteemed quintet. Working alongside the celebrated mandolinist, Rice broadened his musical palate—exploring jazz, classical and other styles—while honing his technique on the guitar.

This prolific period also found Rice embarking on a variety of collaborative projects, including co-founding the supergroup Bluegrass Album Band alongside J.D. Crowe, Bobby Hicks, Todd Phillips and Doyle Lawson, and forming The Tony Rice Unit. Rice’s solo endeavors, meanwhile, often served as an outlet for the musician to record material outside of the bluegrass sphere. 1983’s Church Street Blues, which marked his fourth solo LP, found Rice interpreting some of his favorite folk songs. Recorded in Berkeley, CA, the album was an intimate affair, featuring the artist and his guitar—joined only by his brother, guitarist Wyatt Rice, on four of the 12 tracks.


Rice selected a blend of traditional material (“Cattle in the Cane,” “House Carpenter”) with contemporary compositions, including those by Jimmie Rodgers (“Any Old Time”), Bob Dylan (“One More Night”), Ralph McTell (“Streets of London”) and Tom Paxton (“Last Thing on My Mind”). Other highlights include Rice’s expressive renditions of Hamilton Camp’s oft-covered “Pride of Man,” while he pays homage to his bluegrass roots with a lively cover of the Bill Monroe/Byron Berline-penned “The Gold Rush” (a standout instrumental performance which showcased his dexterity on the guitar). The album also features two songs by Rice’s friend and collaborator, Norman Blake: “Orphan Annie” and “Church Street Blues”—both of which find the artist at his finest. 


Upon its release in 1983 (via Sugar Hill Records), Church Street Blues became an immediate fan-favorite, while today, it remains a classic title in Rice’s prolific discography. Speaking to Church Street Blues in 2022, Bluegrass Today declared the album “his finest and most definitive work,” while, in an earlier profile, the outlet praised, “the recording’s intimacy. . . . It’s like you become closer to Rice as a person with every note that is sung or played.” AllMusic added that Rice “demonstrate[s] his musical eclecticism…as well as his nimble instrumental grace.” Over the years, the album has been cited as an influence by a variety of artists, including The Punch Brothers, who released a reimagining of the record in 2022.

 Hailed by Ricky Skaggs as “The single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years,” Tony Rice remained active for the next three decades, releasing more than a dozen albums under his own name and more than two dozen collaborative titles, including those with The Rice Brothers, Jerry Garcia, the Bluegrass Album Band and Norman Blake. Throughout his career, the guitarist was also a sought-after session musician, who appeared on recordings by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Béla Fleck and Emmylou Harris, among many others. A GRAMMY® Award-winner and multiple IBMA recipient, Rice delivered his final public performance in 2013, during his induction into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.


Church Street Blues tracklist (Vinyl):


Side A

1.  Church Street Blues

2.  Cattle In The Cane

3.  Streets Of London

4.  One More Night

5.  The Gold Rush

6.  Any Old Time


Side B

1.  Orphan Annie

2.  House Carpenter

3.  Jerusalem Ridge

4.  Last Thing On My Mind

5.  Pride Of Man


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