When I was in my early 20s, I became obsessed with bluegrass music. I particulary loved the singing of Bill Monroe, Ralph and Carter Stanley, Lester Flatt, and other first-generation practioners of the bluegrass arts. As I delved deeper, I began to notice the paucity of recorded women rose models, especially ones who sang in the more hard-edged, gritty style of their male counterparts (as opposed to sounding high, warble-y and sweet). Then someone gave me a copy of the then-decade-old Who’s That Knocking?, the first LP by Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard. Hazel and Alice became, for me, instant mentors, a deep well of inspiration and, I’m Happy to say, good friends.
In true bluegrass tradition, Hazel and Alice’s repertoire drew from Carter Family songs (“Who’s That Knocking?,” “Darling Nellie,””Let That Liar Alone”) and other early string band classics (“Train on the Island,” “Walking in My Sleep”), mixed with their own original compositions. In 1989, I toured with Cris Williamson and Teresa Trull. They opened the show each night with a beautiful duet version of “Pretty Bird,” which inspired the version included here. Linda Ronstadt and I recorded it as part of a Rounder Records benefit CD for Hazel over 10 years ago. As of this writing that record remains unreleased.
~ Laurie Lewis, from the liner notes