March 23, 1998 12:00 PM

Bobby Hicks

There’s a lot to be said for the value of a good old-fashioned sweet melody. And this mostly instrumental album by veteran country fiddler Hicks is full of sweet, melodious moments. A North Carolina native, Hicks played with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys during the 1950s and is now part of Ricky Skaggs’s Kentucky Thunder. He was also a big admirer of Bob Wills’s western swing band.

All those influences are apparent in this album, not only in its dedication to Monroe, Wills and Dale Potter, Hicks’s violin mentor, but in the presence of Skaggs himself playing mandolin and singing harmony and in the inclusion of tunes associated with Wills’s band, such as “Comanche Hit and Run.” Hicks also reels off a pretty version of the Marty Stuart-Harlan Howard tune “Oh, What a Silent Night,” with blue-grass veteran Del McCoury handling the vocal part while McCoury’s son Ronnie and Stuart trade mandolin solos.

Good fiddling is one of the consistent joys of country music; it’s a real pleasure to hear one of the most gifted practitioners of the art come to the fore. (Rounder)

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