The VW Boys continue releasing recordings that everyone, even if they won’t admit it, would find pleasing. That’s because The Boys get it.
They understand that fun is a huge segment of entertaining, and that a big part of creating that fun is connecting with the audience through songs that they know and (guilty pleasure or not) enjoy. In an era when most everyone has grown up with a wide variety of musical styles playing in almost constant rotation around them, those songs are likely to come from anywhere. They can come from Pure Prairie League (“Amie”), the Everly Brothers (“All I Have To Do Is Dream”), the Beatles (“I Feel Fine”), Marshall Tucker Band (a killer version of “Fire On The Mountain”), or even Arkie Shibley (“Hot Rod Lincoln”). They can be placed beside “Earl’s Breakdown,” “Brown Mountain Light,” and “Keep On The Sunny Side,” and there’ll hardly be an eye batted. Fun is fun and a good song is a good song.
That said, don’t get the impression that this is some sort of a goofing-around throw-off album of warhorses and popular songs. There is plenty of seriousness in the musicianship of the VW Boys and in the way they approach a tune. Banjoist/vocalist Tim White, guitarist/vocalist Dave Vaught, and relative newcomer bassist/lead vocalist “Fat” Albert Blackburn give these songs the appropriate backing and vocals and put a bit of their own stamp on them, as well. They also manage to give the non-bluegrass material a bluegrass feel and yet remain true to the sound of the original style. In other words, it’s not just a rock song taken in bluegrass tempo (as Red Knuckles might interpret it), and for that I’m thankful. I’m also impressed with the harmonies and particularly by the rich, resonant lead of Blackburn.
Rounding out the fun is the goofy western swing tune “Rag Mop” and the nifty cover of Bob Dylan’s “Rock Me Mama” retitled “Wagon Wheel” with lyrics by Ketch Secor. (Mountain Roads Recordings, 3192 Highway 421, Bristol TN 37620, www.vwboys.com.) BW