The “boys” are a trio of seasoned pickers from Vermont and former members the band Gopher Broke Bluegrass. With Steve Wright on guitar, banjo, and vocals, Gary Darling on mandolin and vocals, and Chris Cruger on bass and vocals, they are joined at times by an array of pickers including Bob Amos on banjo, Haze Smith on guitar and harmony vocals, and Patrick Ross on fiddle. The songs are mostly by Darling and Wright with two instrumentals from Bill Monroe—the rarely heard “Frog On A Lilly Pad” and “The Golden West.”
The predominance of guitar and mandolin leads, and occasional banjo with the bass and the gentle vocals all work to give this program of story songs a folk flavor. The songs reflect the Northland where they live; themes about running rum, cutting stone, and living in an unforgiving land shape the program. These fellows can sing and play and do so without the standard high-lonesome sound that so often infuses bluegrass music. This is true country music sung and played with skill.
Wright’s tribute to his late dog, Maestro, is a twist fest as he works the tuners on his banjo. Even when they get rowdy, a quiet gentleness is present in their music as if to say, ‘You don’t have to burn the barn down with every tune.’ Even when describing a horse pull on the title track, they swing, but don’t get in your face as much as just tell the story as if they were sitting around the stove at the checkerboard in the local hardware.
This unassuming recording grows better with each listening. It’s like staring at the woods—the longer you look, the more you see. The longer you listen, the more you hear. (Gary Darling, 962 Ferguson Rd., Barnet, VT 05821, e-mail: [email protected].)RCB