Jimmy Hall leads the charge with the first single from the upcoming Barry Waldrep and Friends Celebrate Tony Rice tribute album, “Why You Been Gone So Long”, premiering today exclusively via Live For Live Music. The singer/harmonica player for Jeff Beck and frontman for Wet Willie honors the late bluegrass picker with the Mickey Newbury cover from Rice’s 1992 album, Native American.

Though Rice is regarded as a pioneer of the flatpicking bluegrass style, Hall’s cover takes on a decidedly bluesy, Southern rock tone. Even with backing from acoustic instruments, Hall is still able to imbue the song with a honky-tonk swagger carried over the mountain from rock n’ roll to bluegrass. According to Hall, it’s exactly what Barry asked from him and also what Tony would have wanted.

“I’ve known Barry for several years now as a friend and musical collaborator and always enjoy working with him,” Jimmy told Live For Live Music. “When he invited me to sing on this project I was excited to be involved as my respect for Tony’s work is huge. I was curious to know what song I would sing. When I heard the song ‘Why You Been Gone So Long’ at first I wondered just how I could best deliver it. Barry’s direction was spot on… ‘Just be yourself and sing it like you feel it’ is what he suggested. He said that’s what Tony would want and that inspired me to sing it straight from my heart.”

Related: Punch Brothers Announce Tony Rice Tribute Album, ‘Hell On Church Street’, 2022 Tour Dates [Video]

Out on December 24th, just one day shy of the one-year anniversary of Rice’s death, Barry Waldrep and Friends Celebrate Tony Rice includes contributions from Warren HaynesOteil BurbridgeEmmylou HarrisVince GillSpooner OldhamPatrick Simmons, and many more. A portion of the proceeds will be donated in Tony Rice’s name to the IBMA Trust Fund.

Listen to special guest Jimmy Hall’s take on “Why You Been Gone So Long” from the upcoming Barry Waldrep and Friends Celebrate Tony Rice tribute album via the player below and click here to pre-order the album.

Barry Waldrep and Friends ft. Jimmy Hall – “Why You Been Gone So Long” (Mickey Newbury)