The Bluegrass Breakdown

California Bluegrass Association

October 2009

By Brenda Hough



Dr. Elmo & Wild Blue proudly calls itself “Marin County’s premier bluegrass band,” and this collection of 20 songs certainly shows they are worthy of the title. The band members are singers Dr. Elmo on banjo, John Pierson on guitar, Larry Carlin on bass and Dana Rath on mandolin and Kenny Blacklock on fiddle. With three lead vocalists who also blend together in beautifully mixed three-part harmonies, their vocal palette is varied and exciting. Instrumentally, the guitar and banjo provide most of the melodic lead breaks and the band’s energy and love of the music flows out to the listener.

The country, folk and popular songs on the album have been given a “wild-blue” treatment and the resulting songs are familiar favorites with a bluegrass flavor. The

Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen A Face” has a banjo and guitar backdrop. The band revives “Fox on the Run” complete with carefully blended vocal harmonies. If you’re an Oklahoma native, you’ll love the gentle tribute to your favorite state, “My Oklahoma,” with its lone prairie harmonies and a gentle guitar accompaniment.

An album standout is the Dillards’ “There Is A Time” with a strong flatpicked guitar blended with banjo and a wistful vocal blend that combines hope and assurance. Folk fans will enjoy “Last Thing on My Mind” and “City of New Orleans.” Of course, any Dr. Elmo show will have a few chuckles and the “Wild Dogs of Kentucky” has a few snarls and growls from the hounds that howl at the moon and chase the coons all night long.

You won’t need to “wait for the light to shine,” or “walk the way the wind blows” to findsomething find something to enjoy on this album!




The Marin Independent Journal

Dr. Elmo & Wild Blue: Wild Blue Grass

October 30, 2009

By Paul Liberatore



It's getting to be the time of year when the holiday air is filled with the strains of Dr. Elmo's hearty perennial, “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”

That little chestnut has sold more than 10 million copies since he recorded it in 1979, and it keeps Dr. Elmo, aka Novato's Elmo Shropshire, in demand for more personal appearances than the fat man himself.

But Shropshire doesn't just pop out from under the Christmas tree every holiday season, arriving like “Grandma's Killer Fruitcake,” another of his seasonal smilers. He's a legitimate Bay Area bluegrass musician, playing banjo, singing in a high Kentucky wail and fronting his band, Wild Blue, featuring guitarist/singer John Pierson, bassist Larry Carlin and, on this CD, mandolinist Dana Rath (of the Modern Mandolin Quartet) and Berklee School of Music alum Kenny Blacklock on fiddle.

Shropshire gives his fans their money's worth with 20 bluegrass, country and pop songs. He can't resist including a couple of novelty tunes, the dark humor of “Dr. Kevorkian” and “Wild Dogs of Kentucky,” complete with snoring, snarling and you get the idea.

Band members trade lead vocals and join in three-part harmony on tunes like Don Reno's “He's Coming Back to Earth Again” and Tim O'Brien's fine “Walk the Way the Wind Blows.” Carlin's keening tenor gives the harmony an authentic bluegrass sheen.

Pierson's lead guitar solos stop the show on several tunes, and Shropshire's banjo playing gives Steve Martin a run for his money.

Dr. Elmo is always going to be known for the “Grandma” song, but Wild Blue Grass shows that Elmo Shropshire is more than a one-hit wonder.






To get your copy of the CD, contact Larry Carlin here





This page updated 11/02/09