Larry Sparks: It’s Just Me
Song List: Long Way to Denver, Don’t Neglect the Rose, Mom and Dad’s Waltz, Great High Mountain, Sweetheart, How About You, She Thinks I Still Care, Bring ‘Em on Back, Mama’s Apron Strings, The Scarlet Red Lines.
Larry Sparks has had an incredible career in bluegrass music beginning with his role in 1963 as guitarist with the Stanley Brothers and then lead vocalist with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys after Carter Stanley passed. Larry then formed his Lonesome Rambler band in 1969. He has been awarded Male Vocalist of the Year from the IBMA several times, and is a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.
Larry’s voice and guitar playing is featured on this collection, and skills with both are one reason he has been so popular over the last 60 years. Some of the songs are classics: “Don’t Neglect The Rose” and “Great High Mountain” are two of Larry’s most popular songs, and the “Mom and Dad’s Waltz” has that soulful catch in the voice that everyone feels when thinking of departed parents. That emotional connection is one of the hallmark’s of Larry’s vocals, and “Sweetheart,” I love you is a heartfelt message to a lover that touches the heart. “Mama’s Apron Strings” is a call to the past with the all-purpose apron that wiped away tears, gathered apples, and had treasures for the kids. “Bring ‘Em on Back” is another salute to the bluegrass past with its references to Jimmy and Jack, Grand Ole Opry, and the good old times with nanner pudding and chocolate cake.
Often overlooked in a band setting is the versatile guitar playing of Larry Sparks. The deep melodic runs and the precise rhythm are in the forefront here, and guitarists would be well served to listen to his styling. Larry Sparks is the link between the old masters and the present day world of bluegrass, and it’s good to see and hear him carrying on the tradition.