Alan Bibey & Grasstowne
Alan Bibey, founding member of The New Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out and Blue Ridge, has long been acknowledged as one of the most accomplished and influential mandolin players in bluegrass history.
Not surprisingly, Bibey’s latest release with his band Grasstowne – Justin Jenkins on banjo, Zak McLamb on bass and vocals, Tony Watt on guitar and Katy Penn on fiddle and vocals—is superb.
Grasstowne tips its hat to tradition on their tender version of the Bails Brothers’ tune “I Want To Be Loved (But Only By You),” and to gospel on the high-spirited “When He Calls My Name.”
“Crime At Quiet Dell” is a macabre ballad of murder and revenge that kicks a powerful emotional punch. “Rhythm Of The Rails” is the melancholy plaint of a wanderer who only feels at home when he’s in a lonely boxcar rattling down the rails to who-knows-where. “Take The Long Way Home” is a wonderfully off-the-wall song open to multiple layers of interpretation.
The picking, lead singing and harmonies are masterful throughout Hitchhiking to California, with Bibey reminding listeners time and again why he’s in such a rarified class to mandolin stylists. The band’s instrumental prowess really comes to a head on a rousing instrumental called “Messin’ With Sasquatch.”