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MUSIC REVIEWS: New bluegrass releases

THE SELDOM SCENE, "Scenechronized," Sugar Hill. 13 tracks.

Fans of the Seldom Scene are patient people.

They have to be. The Scene definitely isn't in any hurry to release albums.

"Scenechronized" is the quintet's first new album in seven years. And "Scene It All," back in 2000, was the first in four years.

Amazingly, in a genre where band lineups are as changeable as sports lineups, the Scene still has the same players from 1996. And Banjo man Ben Eldridge, the only founding member still around, has been with the group since 1971.

So, was this album worth the wait?

Oh yeah.

When you get musicians like Eldridge, Dudley Connell, Lou Reid, Ronnie Simpkins and Fred Travers together, the results have to be good.

And the Scene is as eclectic as ever in its song selection.

There's Steve Earle's "Hometown Blues," John Fogerty's "A Hundred And Ten In The Shade," Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is A Long Time," Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" and Carter Stanley's "Sweetest Love."

"Please Be With Me" is a song associated with Duane Allman and Eric Clapton. And "Katie Dear" and "This Morning At Nine" are from the Country Gentlemen's repertoire.

The late John Duffey, one of the band's founders, is remembered with a new version of his "Don't Bother With White Satin." And Donna Hughes' "Sad Old Train" is a tip of the hat to the Scene's 1974 "Old Train."

But the thing to remember is this is a band with three lead singers and some sweet harmony.

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BILL EVANS, "Banjo For Dummies," Wiley Publishing. 330 pages.

OK, I know what you're thinking. But no banjo jokes, please.

The "For Dummies" series of books is one of the most successful publishing ventures of modern times.

Since its inception in 1991, the series has published 125 million books in 39 languages.

And now, Bill Evans, banjo man and music scholar, has produced an edition for banjo players.

Evans, a former member of the Dry Branch Fire Squad and other bands, has performed internationally with his one-man show, "The Banjo In America."

He's also produced instructional banjo DVDs for AcuTab Publications.

"Banjo For Dummies" includes easy instructions in various styles of banjo playing, including the three-finger Scruggs-style of bluegrass banjo.

The book has more than 130 banjo tab examples, 120 photos and diagrams and a 94 track CD.

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