Compton is likely best known these days for his work with the Nashville Bluegrass Band, though he has loaned his sound to many, many projects over the years. Last year he took part in the John Hartford Stringband, formed around the superb "Memories of John" release celebrating the work of Hartford. Like the other musicians included there, Compton had recorded and toured with Hartford who was, really by any measure, a standard bearer for a very distinct approach to old-time music.
And while he's made a career of playing with others, these days he's on his own, and he stopped by the KDHX shortly after putting out his newest release, "Rotten Taters." It's a project which for the first time lets us see something that we've only glimpsed in the past: Compton playing by himself, unaccompanied and undirected. And it's simply stellar. For Compton, it's all about rhythm, with the mandolin serving principally as a rhythmic instrument rather than a melodic one. These days, for this style of playing, he is the player that all others are compared to; if you play old-time or traditional bluegrass mandolin, you want to play like Mike Compton.