I've heard Big Country follow Wildwood Valley Boys with Michael Cleveland playing fiddle. Wildwood Valley put on a good show, but it was plumb over when Big Country started. Michael Cleveland is a great fiddler, to be sure. So is Jeff Michael. And so is Billy Hawks. Big Country had Tommy Malbeuf playing fiddle on one of their early albums. Tommy Sells has always drawn excellent musicians to his band. When one goes out for one reason or another, he finds an equal right away. It seems like right now the band has a good, strong working base where everybody playing is together, and each one loaded with experience. They make the real deal bluegrass.
Big Country Bluegrass is the favorite band in our region and has been for some time. Everybody in the band is plain folks. They open for Ralph Stanley when he plays at Fairview. The night I saw Ralph give two concerts, one after the other with a 15 minute break, it was because Big Country couldn't make it for the show. It was a shame to miss them, but I can't complain. Ralph and the Clinch Mountain Boys playing bluegrass for 3 hours is about as good as it gets. It's not just that they're playing bluegrass, they're playing Ralph Stanley. That's a high grade of bluegrass. Big Country Bluegrass plays at that high grade. They embody these mountains, they are these mountains like Ralph Stanley before them.