From left to right: John Hartford, Tony Rice, Jamie Hartford and Ramblin' Jack Elliott at Mountain Stage in 1989. Mountain Stage hide caption

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Mountain Stage

From left to right: John Hartford, Tony Rice, Jamie Hartford and Ramblin' Jack Elliott at Mountain Stage in 1989.

Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Tony Rice On Mountain Stage

Tony Rice On Mountain Stage

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Among bluegrass musicians, Tony Rice is universally regarded as the most important and influential guitarist in the genre's history. In the simplest terms, beginning with his first albums three decades ago, Rice all but single-handedly established the guitar as a lead instrument in bluegrass music.

He was born in Danville, Va. but raised in California, where he fell under the influence of the L.A. bluegrass band The Kentucky Colonels and its innovative flatpick-style guitarist Clarence White. Rice joined J.D. Crowe & the New South, playing and singing lead alongside Ricky Skaggs and Jerry Douglas.

Rice's landmark Manzanita album contained many elements of bluegrass and traditional music, as well as flashes of jazz and new acoustic — but in a clear break from convention, no banjo whatsoever. The guitarist was also a highly sought-after singer, but lost his beloved baritone to a mysterious ailment nearly 20 years ago. He showed remarkable improvement in the fall of 2013, speaking before an emotional audience as he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Rice plays and sings during this Mountain Stage set from Aug. 6, 1989, along with his brother Wyatt on guitar, Jimmy Gaudreau on mandolin, fiddler Rickie Simpkins and bassist Mark Schatz.

Set List
  • "Blue Railroad Train"
  • "Nine Pound Hammer"
  • "Summer Wages"
  • "Me and My Guitar"
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