Billy Blue Records
Barry Abernathy has been away from the bluegrass mainstream since leaving Mountain Heart. He makes a strong return teaming up with traditional bluegrass stalwart Darrell Webb on the Appalachian Road Showproject.
Abernathy’s soulful vocals are featured on an old-time rendition of the gospel song “Little Black Train” and a spiritual/work song called “Broken Bones.” “Milwaukee Blues” features Webb on lead vocals. This song is a perfect selection to illustrate the concept of an Appalachian Road Show, as it sounds like a song Doc Watson would select for his show with the performance by the band reminiscent of the sound of the Nashville Bluegrass Band. “Dance, Dance, Dance” (a cover of the Steve Miller Band hit) works well with a bluegrass arrangement. “Piney Mountains,” “Lovin’ Babe,” and “Anna Lee” have an old-time feel within a bluegrass treatment of each song. The CD concludes with a guitar backed bluegrass gospel number “I Am Just A Pilgrim.”
Abernathy (banjo) and Webb (mandolin) are backed by a stellar cast: Bryan Sutton and Zeb Snyder on guitar, Stuart Duncan and Jim VanCleve on fiddle, and Todd Phillips on bass. Unlike many modern bluegrass recordings, on which technical proficiency outshines emotion, this album exudes soulfulness in its vocals, along with top-notch instrumentation and song arrangement. The variety of the songs, the blend of the vocals, and the excellent musicianship make Appalachian Road Showone of the most interesting and listenable CDs to be released in the last several years. (www.billybluerecords.com)TK