On the lovely Rolling On, Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Drifters deliver one of the most consistent, song to song albums I’ve heard. That takes a great deal of care and an ensemble with a lot of experience. On a recording with a generous 15 tracks, that is mighty impressive. It has 15 because it celebrates the band’s 15 years playing since starting literally as a patched together bunch for one gig in April 2003.
This release follows the recent addition of the accomplished Radford Vance (banjo) and Michele Birkby-Vance, whose fiddling shines brightly, to the three originals Bennie Cunningham on guitar and Bob and Karen Artis on mandolin and bass. The latter pair brings a world of experience going back nearly a half-century. Bob wrote what I believe was the second full-length book on bluegrass ever.
Their music relies heavily on traditional elements while sounding nonetheless fresh. Each member contributes to the seven original songs. The material provides a wonderful balance of driving (“Westbound 109”), gospel (“Heaven’s Green Fields”), instrumental (“Miss McCleod’s Reel”), and vocal-powered contemporary (“Blue Ridge”). With its impeccable, tasteful picking, Rolling Onis a delightful album by a top-flight regional band. (www.alleghenydrifters.com)AM
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