Rural Rhythm

Often, debut albums come out quietly, but that’s not the case with the new group ClayBank and their release, Playing Hard To Forget. The group launched their CD with a Showcase performance at the 2016 IBMA World Of Bluegrass in Raleigh, and saw the single “Up On ClayBank” rise quickly up the bluegrass charts.

The band is composed of Zack Arnold on mandolin; Jacob Greer on guitar; Tyler Thompson on banjo; and Gary Trivette on bass. All four contribute vocals. Musicianship is evident throughout the album, kicking off with the Becky Buller penned “How I Love You,” followed by “Demise Of Handsome Molly.” Steve Gulley recorded, mixed, and co-produced the album, and the quality is evident throughout. In particular, the banjo work of Thompson is clear on several cuts, in particular “On My Way Back To You” and the sharp instrumental “Foot Of The Phoenix.” Songwriting master Milan Miller and James Ellis collaborated on the title track, and three songs were written by band members.

There is much to like from this new North Carolina group, and as Charles Osgood is fond of saying, listeners should expect to “see them on the radio.” (

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