Concept albums, which were somewhat common in country music in the 1960s and 1970s, have never really caught on in bluegrass.
But Donna Ulisse has created what she calls a “dramatic story told in song” with “All The Way To Bethlehem.”
It’s a musical journey of all the elements in the story of the first Christmas, leading to the birth of Jesus.
There’s “I See The Light of the World,” which sets the stage; “Elisabeth,” the cousin of Mary and the mother of John the Baptist; “He’s Not Mine,” the story of Joseph; “You Will Be Delivered,” the angel’s message to Mary; the title cut, a duet with her husband, Rick Stanley, about the journey to Bethlehem; “You Cannot Stay Here,” the innkeeper says he has no room
“Let The World Wait A Little While,” Mary wants time alone with her baby; “He Is Here,” the angels message to the shepherds; “I’m Gonna Shine,” the star’s song; “We’re Coming To Worship Him,” the journey of the Magi; and “Morning in Bethlehem,” when the elements all come together.
Ulisse wrote or co-wrote all 11 songs in the production, which she and her band will be performing at concerts during the Christmas season.
The musical lineup includes Keith Sewell, Andy Leftwich, Victor Krauss, Rob Ickes, Byron House, John Mock, Wendy Buckner Sewell, Ana Sewell and Stanley.
Bluegrass purists may find fault with electric guitars, a concertina and a penny whistle that appear on a couple of tracks. But, for the most part, it’s an acoustic album
And it’s a good way to get in the spirit of Christmas early.
Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.DonnaUlisse.com.