Old Homestead OHS-90226
They don’t make bluegrass like this much anymore. Great vocals, fine picking rooted deep in the genre, and fiddling worthy of a Western Swing band make this an exemplary album. Wendy Miller played mandolin with Larry Sparks along with Mike Lilly, before he played with J.D. Crowe. The music here is first-rate bluegrass ranging from originals to great old country and bluegrass standards.
The opening cut “Excuse Me” features Lilly’s fine banjo playing complete with quotes from one of his heroes, Don Reno, and sweet fiddling from Evan MacGregor. While Lilly is only on four cuts here, McGregor is all over the project with his fine fiddling. Miller and Lilly close the CD with a number from that old LP, Ramblin’ Bluegrass, they did with Sparks, “Too Much Mountain Dew.” The balance of the banjo work is by Albon Clevenger who proves he has considerable chops, and he shows them off nicely on the old swing gem “Charmaine.” The whole band has fun with that one. Chris Miller, a strong vocalist with a driving guitar, teams with Rick Bartley on bass to form the bedrock of the band sound. Bartley also added three very solid original songs to the project, “When Death Comes Knocking,” “Railroad Man,” and “Country Way Of Living.”
The whole band has fun with “Freight Train Boogie.” They bring back the kind of bluegrass that’s missing today by never stopping what they have always done, presenting a strong program of great material with grace and skill. They may not be front page news to most fans of bluegrass, but this recording should work to change that. Miss hearing this fine recording and you will be missing one of the best recordings to come out in quite a while. (Old Homestead Records, P.O. Box 100, Brighton, MI 48116.)RCB