Celebrating With FriendsJOHNNY GIMBLE

Celebrating With Friends

[CMH Records]

Johnny Gimble’s record company is calling the latest release from the Western swing veteran Celebrating With Friends. The artist himself seems to know where the emphasis ought to be and is marketing the same album online with the title Still Swingin’.Whatever you call it, this isn’t an album that’s enhanced much by guest spots. Its joys come from the 83-year-old fiddler himself, who still sounds elated by the fact that he gets to make music for a living. Cameos from Merle Haggard, Vince Gill and others are overshadowed by the ability of Gimble’s band to work in old-school styles without sounding the least bit ancient. Gimble’s granddaughter Emily feeds off the group’s vigor on a gripping “If I Had You.” But most of the bigger names seem only moderately engaged at the microphone, as if they were in awe of a hero and afraid of getting in his way.

–David Styburski

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