Sometime in 2011, I moved away from my hometown of Ionia and headed up to Traverse City to see what kind of trouble I could find. I worked at a local hotel for a while before I got the call: I was on the clock, but I picked up anyway. The fella on the line said he was a bluegrass musician, and he expressed interest in playing tunes with me at some point. I was excited to make some new friends and meet some of the local pickers in the area, but I didn’t know I was walking into the inferno. At that first get-together, I met Paul Kirchner, who is a great banjo player and a walking encyclopedia of all things bluegrass. I quickly realized his kids are musicians, and his kids’ kids will probably play too. I was invited to stay for dinner and to come back and pick any time. I ended up hanging out with the Kirchners and their extended musical family quite a bit. They introduced me to Eric Langejans, and we hit it off pretty quickly, discovering our shared love of Flatpicking-guitar and the smell of flowers. Playing bluegrass music into the wee hours of the morning with them at bluegrass festivals across the region was a common occurrence. Shortly after I met Todd, we did a gig or two together, and Eric was always around singing and playin’ the hell out of that guitar. These fellas know some great tunes. It’s such a blast to make music with them, and it’s exciting to see what they’ve been up to over the last few years. I’ve noticed Full Cord ignite with the additions of fiddle maestro Grant Flick, ripping banjo of Lloyd Douglas, and rock-solid vocals, repertoire, and mandolin mastery of Brian Oberlin. The first play-through of this album made me want to grab my axe, drive up North, meet up with these guys, and jam till tomorrow morning like we’ve done so many times before. I don’t need to though, because songs on this record transport me back home.
Consider the material, which turns out to be everything you'd expect from a great bluegrass album. We start with the hard grass Yardboss, a song of love with an Irish feel Right In Step, a bluegrass song about bluegrass music Rogue River Valley, a funky jam vehicle with harmonic interest Downtown, a "home" song by Eric Langejans, Lincoln River, featuring Eric's always-to-the-point guitar playing and singing. Then comes Hey Watch This, an aptly named instrumental by Natural Fiddler Grant Flick. (Like Roy Hobbs in "The Natural", he hits everything he swings at) Next up a honky-tonk number Silvertone Blues by great singer/fiddler Benny Martin. Oberlin adds a verse of his own to keep the fun going. Western Swing is saluted in Daydream Dance with Brian's vocal floating over a chorus of harmonized fiddles. More all-time greats are honored as the mandolin player plays in the manner of Jesse McReynolds on Valentine and Mandoliners Dream and writes a tune worthy of swing-master Jethro Burns, Rugburns. At this point you have heard the deep versatility of banjoist Lloyd Douglas. Dig his contributions on Valentine and Rugburns: the hard grass drives and the swing stuff swings. The same can be said of the way Todd Kirchner creates his bass parts. His rhythmic concepts are just right no matter the style or groove. In fact, the other guys would not be so free with their expressions without the correct feel coming from the bass.
Every bluegrass album should have a waltz, and Abilene fits nicely, in large part due to a beautiful vocal trio. That's Katie Kirchner on the high baritone. Her harmony parts and the way the group voices the trios add another strength to the Full Cord Bluegrass sound.
Wrapping it up is an early jazz number in bluegrass time feel. Remember Earl Scruggs mixing the genres? Bugle Call Rag, Farewell Blues et al..This is another in that vein; The World is Waiting for the Sunrise. Thank goodness we don't have to wait anymore for Full Cord Bluegrass and this wonderfully conceived and executed set of tunes. Bravo!
"Radio Creds" are votes awarded to artists by radio programmers who have downloaded their music and have been impressed with the artist's professionalism and the audience's response to the new music. Creds help artists advance through the AirPlay Direct community.
Only radio accounts may add a Radio Cred. One week after the track has been downloaded the radio account member will receive an email requesting a Cred for each artist they've downloaded.