Hailing from the Big River area around SE Missouri, the aptly named Riverbend is a five-piece band with a style rooted in traditional bluegrass. Over 11 tunes here, the band shows a deft hand with high tenor lead voices and the driving Monroe-style mandolin of Andy Navara to bring a very traditional sound to their style.
Novara, author of a recently released book of Bill Monroe transcriptions, proves worthy to the task here. His solos are always crisply executed, interjected just enough of his own voice to avoid sounding like he has Big Mon Syndrome, especially on the mandolin-driven “Northern White Clouds” and his lickety-split flurry of notes on “I’m Still To Blame.”
Kris Shewmake on banjo has a firm touch on his backups, and knows when and where to step up on his solos, like his intro to “Just Like The Wind.” Will Miskall provides foundational bass and tenor singing, joined by bandmates Aaron Muskopf on guitar and lead vocals, and Blake Korte on baritone vocals and Dobro.™ Korte proves to be the rare resophonic guitarist these days who avoids sounding like a Flux clone, interjecting his solos and backup with serene touches of Josh Graves and Tut Taylor.
I’m not familiar with the tunes here, so I’m assuming they’re band originals. Nothing on the CD or web about song authorship, but in any event the tunes here suit the band’s style and give every soloist ample room to make their voices heard.
Riverbend has the Mississippi in its roots, and the band makes a very positive first step into the public eye. Fans of deepstate bluegrass that hales back to the better day will find a lot to like around this Riverbend.