BILL EMERSON, “Eclipse,” Rural Rhythm. 14 tracks.

At 73, Bill Emerson has had the kind of career most bluegrass artists can only dream of — and he’s still going strong.

Emerson, one of the most influential banjo players this side of Earl Scruggs, has been performing for 56 years now in a career that began with Uncle Bob & the Blue Ridge Partners in 1955.

Two years later, he joined with Charlie Waller, John Duffey and Larry Lahey to create The Country Gentlemen, one of the top acts in bluegrass.

In 1959, Emerson began moving around.

First, the Stoneman Family. Then, Bill Harrell, Red Allen, Jimmy Martin and Cliff Waldron’s New Shades of Grass.

It was with Waldron in 1968 that Emerson’s banjo turned Manfred Mann’s folk-rock song, “Fox on the Run,” into a bluegrass classic.

He returned to the Gentlemen in 1969 for four years and then began a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy, leading the Navy’s bluegrass band Country Current.

These days, Emerson is back heading his own band, Sweet Dixie.

“Eclipse” is his seventh solo album.

It’s primarily a showcase of Emerson’s instrumental compositions. He wrote nine of the 14 tracks.

Marshall Wilborn sings lead on the traditional “Jesse James,” with his wife, Lynn Morris, singing harmony.

Jenny Leigh Obert provides vocals for “Don’t Come Around,” a song she wrote.

And Tom Adams sings the traditional “Poor Rebel Soldier.” It’s the album’s first single.

Instrumentals include “New San Juan,” “Coast to Coast,” “Chilly Winds,” “Espanol,” “Bed and Breakfast,” “Ride It Out,” “Tex Mex Shindig,” “No Streering — No Brakes,” “Dickerson County Breakdown,” “The Grey Ghost” and “Old Cane Pole.”

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

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