DUKE WEDDINGTON AND HIGHER GROUND BLUEGRASS
This latest project from Weddington and company provides us with another helping of progressive bluegrass with some fine Celtic touches. When you get west of the Mississippi, new rules tend to apply to the genre. You still have to be a good picker, but what and how you pick is open to new ideas. Weddington, originally a Tar Heel now living in New Mexico, is a long way from his North Carolina roots, but he hasn’t lost sight of them. His New Mexico bandmates come from all over The States, and they bring with them some great talents.
“Maiden Mollie”/“Mollie In The Glens” is pure Celtic with Char Rothschild’s uilleann pipes contrasting with Weddington’s banjo and Dave Devlin’s inspired resonator guitar work. This is enhanced by Dain Forsythe’s bodhran. The singing and picking here is transcendent of single genre. Regular bandmembers are all here. Leah Leach Devlin plays bass, Pat Mahoney is the fiddler, and Fred Bolton plays guitar. They’re joined by several guests—Kikelle Gessner-Garcia on fiddle, Bob Gray on mandolin, and Ian Fleming on lead guitar.
The tunes are all strong with a good mix of bluegrass and Celtic tunes adding a good variety to the program. Weddington is a masterful banjo player and tunesmith. “Morning Glory” has a complex melody that they all work to their advantage. Especially nice is Rothschild’s flute playing on this cut. Fleming’s guitar shines here as well. “Sailor’s Delight” shows off Weddington’s love of long melodic runs on the banjo. This is not the bluegrass of yesterday or even necessarily the South. It’s a new bluegrass that extends boundaries. (highergroundbluegrass.com)RCB