IT'S HARD to say who stood to benefit more when Jonathan Edwards and the Seldom Scene decided to collaborate on their new album, "Blue Ridge." Edwards acquired just about the best band bluegrass has to offer, and the Scene acquired a singer with an instantly recognizable voice and a considerable following. Judging by the results, it seems fans of both parties are the real winners.
Edwards' smokey tenor nicely complements the Scene's tightly woven harmonies on several tunes, including Flatt and Scruggs' "Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky," and the title tune, a lovely melancholy waltz. Side one is capped by a terrific banjo-driven version of Edwards' mid-'70s hit "Sunshine," complete with John Duffey's high lead tenor and the sparkling musicianship that has made the Seldom Scene the premier band in progressive bluegrass music.
The flip side holds up almost as well. Among the highlights are a crisp bluegrass version of Bob Dylan's "Only a Hobo," and the harmonica swamp blues, "Don't Crawfish Me, Baby." Joint ventures should always be this successful.
JONATHAN EDWARDS & THE SELDOM SCENE -- "Blue Ridge" (Sugar Hill SH 3747); Edwards appears this Friday and Saturday at the Birchmere; the Seldom Scene are Thursday-night regulars at the Birchmere.