The View From Home
West Virginia native Greg Blake has the kind of earnest and persuasive voice that you could listen to all day. It’s a voice capable of conveying nuanced layers of intimacy and empathy. When you listen to Blake, you might feel as if he’s sitting in your living room relating some of these intensely emotional songs directly to you. Additionally, Blake is very handy as a lead guitarist and is, in fact, a former Kansas State Flat Picking Champion and five-time SPGMA “Guitar Player of the Year.”
It’s no surprise that he was recently invited to join the band Special Consensus as lead singer. He’s is also a two-time nominee for IBMA’s “Male Vocalist of the Year” Award. Blake, who spent years in various western and midwestern states as a minister while fronting bluegrass bands on the side, is also not afraid to take on some hard-hitting issues in his song choices.
These themes include profound sadness and loss—as in the bone-crushing despair of “Cold Gray Light Of Gone,” cowritten by Bill Anderson, Vince Gill and Otto Kitinsger and Randall Hylton’s devastating “The Sky Is Weeping.”
Other selections, such as “In The Wind” (penned by Grant and Monica Cochran), “Two Children” (Rick Johnson and Jaymore Musk) and John Starling’s “Gardens And Memories” deal with lingering grief and poignant remembrance. Blake breathes similar veracity and intensity into a pair of gospel songs full of promise and hope: “Journey’s End” (Pete Kuykendall) and “The Other Side Of Heaven” (Alice Shumate and Dawn Kenney).
Blake and his band—Grant Cochran (bass), Brian McCarty (mandolin and tenor vocals) and Todd Davis (banjo and baritone vocals) lighten the emotional load with some fine picking and stellar harmonies on their boisterous instrumental rendition of Jesse McReynold’s “Stoney Creek.”