Carolina Blue, perhaps the only bluegrass band to share a name with a hip-hop group, offers a very good album, Goin’ Home Today, marking their tenth year together. Falling on the traditional end of the contemporary bluegrass spectrum, the band demonstrates the talent, skills, and commitment to succeed. The quality of the CD packaging, the recording, and the video for its standout track “The Ballad Of Flem Galloway” prove a serious investment in their career and their music.
Carolina Blue comes from southwestern North Carolina, like Balsam Range, the Crowe Brothers, Clyde Moody, Raymond Fairchild, and Don Reno. The band has all the necessary parts. The excellent original songs and tunes from guitarist and lead singer Bobby Powell, along with Tim Jones on mandolin and lead vocals, banjoman Seth Rhinehart, and fiddler Emma Best populate 12 of the 14 cuts. The lead and harmony singing is quite good, with the multiple lead voices that seem requisite these days. Similarly, they play well individually, and more important, as an ensemble.
I’m shocked that, in all this time, Goin’ Home Today is their first studio album. The band formed in recording a 2007 CD credited to Bobby and Tim. Since then, only a 2015 live release has appeared, so this is a welcome event. With so much going for them, Carolina Blue is a band to watch. They still need, however, to craft fully that special, recognizable sound and style that make them easily recognizable, one that allows them to stand out in a crowded field of very good bands with similar aspirations. (Carolina Blue Band, P.O. Box 913, Brevard, NC 28712, www.carolinablueband.com.)AM