Remembering The Past
The Kentucky Colonels were as progressive and innovative as Billy Strings is today and Osborne Brothers were before them. The guitar magic—there’s no other word—conjured by Clarence White, melding with his older brother Roland’s dry, almost plaintive vocals and spot-on Monroe style mandolin, created a thrilling new sound. The highlight, to many fans was their all-instrument LP, Appalachian Swing To commemorate that landmark achievement, noted flatpicking guitar instructor Adam Schlenker rounded up his fellow Colonelheads and made a deep dive into the band’s expansive repertoire. Remembering The Past harkens to every phase of the Colonels’ career and the brilliance of Clarence’s guitar work. But this project was never intended to be a note-perfect recreation of even a single tune, much less an entire album. Instead, it’s a tribute to the musical trails they blazed, infused with the inspiration Adam and Co. garnered from hearing the original band’s vibrance and originality.
The project is peppered with some of the Colonels’ most revered selections, including “Will You Miss Me,” and a lovely Whitesque harmony on “If You’re Ever Gonna Love Me.” Master flatpicker Schlenker follows Clarence’s footsteps on standards like “Alabama Jubilee.” Bringing in a legacy player, “I Am A Pilgrim” opens with the keening resophonic guitar of LeRoy McNees, an original member of the Colonels, adding serious gravitas to this project. The surrounding cast is also excellent. Hayes Griffin has mastered both Roland White’s singing and Monroe-uploaded mandolin style nicely here, too, with strong banjo work from Todd Sams on “Take Me Back Again.”
To many modern fans, the Kentucky Colonels may have flown under the radar, and that’s a pity. Here, a band of musicians deeply rooted in the band’s legacy bring to life these classic tunes, amazing flatpicking, and austerely authentic vocals for a new generation that’s loving the modern guitar heroes who are standing on Clarence’s shoulders today. May they go back to the original LP and discover its wonders, as well.