Bluegrass At The Crossroads
During the pandemic, when most bands and artists were off the road, the folks at Mountain Home Music put the downtime to good use. Drawing on solo artists and various band members from their talent roster—The Lonesome River Band, The Traveling McCourys, The Grascals, The Infamous Stringdusters, Sideline, Zoe & Cloyd, among others—producer Jon Weisberger assembled not one, but several different “super groups” in the studio. It’s mentioned in the liner notes that some of these pickers had never met before, much less played together.
Also included were stylists, such as Andy Leftwich, Skip Cherryholmes, Kristin Scott Benson, Jeremy Garrett and Gina Furtado, to name a few. The results are predictably top-flight. Weisberger cowrote eight of the 12 song selections, which has provided both a variety as well as a subtle continuity to the proceedings. He also carefully handpicked specific combinations of musicians for each song.
The upbeat, attitude-adjusting “Start Walking Back,” the heartbreaking “Not That Far Along” and the old-timey “Timber Train” are particular standouts. There’s also a soaring and snappy revival of the classic Earl Scruggs instrumental “Ground Speed,” which showcases some snazzy picking from Kristin Scott Benson on banjo, Skip Cherryholmes on guitar, Jeremy Garrett on fiddle, Kevin Kherberg on bass and Darren Nicholson on mandolin.
One of the most satisfying dimensions of this project is that under Weissberg’s sure and steady hand, every participant, whether it’s a bluegrass brand name like Sammy Shelor and Wayne Benson or slightly more under-the-radar artists, gets to shine.