SLOCAN RAMBLERS, COFFEE CREEK
This Canadian quartet captures the breadth and depth of bluegrass that bands in the chilly North aspire to. They bring a wealth of talent and musical expertise to their work and dig deeper than the average band to come up with a sound that’s not only original, but also draws from old-time and jazz to make for a unique sound. They’re quite capable as vocalists, digging deep for a grit seasoned with nuance.
Frank Evans has a world-weary edge to his vocals and is equally adept at both clawhammer and bluegrass banjo styles with an innovative approach to both. Adrian Gross approaches the mandolin with abandon that doesn’t always follow the rules, but always gets to the essence of the message. Darryl Poulsen is an adept guitarist who can hang with the best of them, all the while pulling great tone from that dreadnaught. Alastair Whitehead holds down the bass line and also plays banjo and sings.
The band likes instrumentals, offering up several strong originals including the title-cut. They cover “Ground Hog,” but their version has threads of the old Dillards rendition. “Elk River” features Whitehead on lead vocal and clawhammer banjo on this original. The song sounds familiar while being new. He also contributed “Angeline,” another fine introspective piece. His bass on “April Waltz” is very nice as well. “Rambling Sailor” is kind of a bluegrass sea chantey with great drive and spirit. Woody Guthrie’s “Pastures Of Plenty,” Dave Evans’ “Call Me Long Gone,” the old Roy Acuff standby “Steamline Cannonball,” and the Delmore Brothers’ “Mississippi Shore” all take on a new life with the energy the band pumps into them. If you’ve grown tired of the same old sounds, here’s a band who reinvents a genre that’s growing through many changes of late. Unlike some groups, these fellows infuse traditional elements from unexpected sources to grow the music organically.(www.slocanramblers.com)RCB