BIG COUNTRY BLUEGRASS, “The Boys in Hats & Ties,” Rebel Records. 15 tracks.

This six-piece band from the Virginia-North Carolina border country has seen more than its share of tragedy in the past decade.

In October 2003, Larry Pennington, the band’s banjo player from its inception in 1987, died of Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis — Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Then, last May, Alan Mastin, the band’s bass player for 21 years, died in a traffic accident driving home from a show.

This album marks Mastin’s final recording with Big Country Bluegrass, an album which ironically includes “Wreck on the Highway,” a Roy Acuff classic from 1942.

The title cut, written by Tom T. and Dixie Hall along with Don Rigsby, is a salute to the pioneers of bluegrass music in the 1940s and 1950s. It’s the first single from the album and is No. 16 on Bluegrass Unlimited’s October singles charts.

The Halls also wrote “The First Rose,” a song about a love that spans decades of separation.

Jeff Michael is the band’s lead singer, but Johnny Williams sings lead on three songs and Teresa Sells on two.

Three instrumentals — “Prodigal 5,” “Top Hat Ramble” and “Rendezvous” — are featured.

If you like to sing along with CDs, there are plenty of good opportunities on this album.

Can’t find it in stores? Try www.rebelrecords.com.

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