If the name of this band and their album suggests to you a bunch of musicians “laid back and pickin’” (as Lester Flatt used to say), you wouldn’t be far wrong. And Flatt’s of long ago observation would apply here, too. These talented and experienced Southern California-based musicians with years of great experience between them have bonded together to form a highly enjoyable outfit that just about any fan of bluegrass will enjoy.
The multi-talented Herb Peterson (a Los Angeles recording session veteran and member of The Dillards, Country Gazette, Old & In The Grey, and even the Foggy Mountain Boys when he briefly substituted for a then-ailing Earl Scruggs) leads off on vocals and guitar. Patrick Sauber (a former backup musician for Laurie Lewis and the Blade Runners) steps up doing a crack job on banjo and mandolin. His father, Tom Sauber, who has accompanied Alice Gerrard and Mike Seeger, contributes soulful fiddling. Bill Bryson is as solid a bass player as he is a vocal harmonizer.
The material here is a pleasing mix of bluegrass and up-tempo old-time. There are some numbers well-associated with the Osborne Brothers (notably “I’ll Be Alright Tomorrow”) that sound as if Bobby and Sonny themselves had sneaked into the recording studio as guest vocalists. At first, I was disappointed that this ensemble hadn’t recorded more of its own original material (such as the train song “Ridin’ The L&N” by Bill Bryson). But, then I realized that’s not the point. These are veteran, highly talented pickers and singers who enjoy bluegrass, country, and folk classics, and they want to share these songs with you. Let them in and enjoy. You absolutely can’t go wrong with this one. (Arhoolie Productions, 10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530, www.arhoolie.com.)RDS