MIKE CROSS has been known to lose all sense of time on stage, save for the rhythmic kind. He's apt to play for hours on end, mixing country, blues and bluegrass, tall tales and short ditties, whatever suits him, his guitar, fiddle and banjo. So if his album falls short of his performances, well, perhaps that's to be expected. The good news is that "Solo At Midnight" may well be the next best thing to being there.

The music, most of it either written or arranged by Cross, is typically eclectic, wending its way through Appalachian string band music, Celtic traditions, southern acoustic blues and folk ballads. There is humor in some of these songs, pathos in others, spirit in all of them. The arrangements display Cross' instrumental flair tastefully, never at the expense of the lyric. And on tunes like "The Panama Limited," the guitar sings just as surely as Cross himself.

So pick a tune, any tune -- the rollicking "Appalachian Mountain Boogie," the somber blues "Georgia May," the prayerful "He's Everywhere," the infectious "River Song." There isn't a dud among them.

MIKE CROSS -- "Solo At Midnight" (Sugar Hill SH 10007); appearing Friday at 8 at The Barns of Wolf Trap.