It’s unusual to have an album of music featuring only one instrument — especially if the instrument is a resophonic guitar.
But when the instrument is played by three masters like Mike Audridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes, it’s a little less strange.
“Mike and I originally thought Jerry was a little off his rocker to not use a backing band,” Ickes said in a news release about “Three Bells.” “But there was something special in how the three of us were interacting musically.”
Resophonic guitars, often referred to as Dobros, grew out of the Hawaiian music craze of the 1920s. Josh Graves introduced the instrument to bluegrass in the 1950s as a member of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys.
Auldridge, a founding member of the Seldom Scene, was a legendary resophonic guitar player, who had toured with people like Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris.
But he was dying from a long battle with prostate cancer when Douglas and Ickes suggested they record some music together — a follow up to their 1994 Grammy-winning, “The Great Dobro Sessions.”
It wasn’t necessarily going to be an album, they said. They just wanted to record memories while Auldridge was still able.
The sesions were recorded in May and September of 2012.
And Auldridge died on Dec. 28.
Luckily for bluegrass fans, those final recordings with Auldridge did become an album.
Rounder is scheduled to release it on Sept. 16.
Each of the men performs a solo.
Auldridge does a medley of “Till There Was You/Moon River.” Douglas performs his own, “The Perils of Private Mulvaney.” And Ickes plays his own, “The Message.”
Other songs include “Silver Threads Among The Gold,” Don Reno‘s “I’m Using My Bible For A Roadmap,” Douglas and Stuart Duncan‘s “North,” Auldridge’s “For Buddy,” Ickes’ “Dobro Heaven” and the title cut, a 1959 country hit for The Browns, but originally a French pop song called “Les Trois Cloches.”
A fine album by some of the best resphonic guitar players ever on the planet.
Available at Rounder.com on Sept. 16.