Common Ground (Sugar Hill)

By Bob Mitchell

This release contains exceptional instrumentation as well as vocals with tight, pleasant harmony. Arrangements are thoughtful and well constructed. Each selection shows a respect for the roots of bluegrass, but it is especially evident in the lonesome sound of "It's So Cold."

My favorite selection is "Appalachian Queen." This is one of three tunes written by Gerald Ellenburg, and let me tell you, he knows how to write a song! This song cooks and Wayne Winkle's guitar break alone is worth the price of the CD.

Terry Baucom's banjo and Alan Bibey's mandolin provide some sensational breaks and back up. Too many electric bass players forget to use the volume control and overpower everything in their path. Randy Graham, on the other hand, understands the concept of teamwork and provides a strong, yet subtle, bass line throughout the project. A tip of the reviewer's hat to you, Randy! I do not know how long they have been together, but they have a seasoned and mature sound. With bands like this, we do not have to worry about the future of bluegrass in the 21st century.

One nice surprise is the guest appearance of Ronnie Stewart, former fiddle/banjo player with Gary Brewer and current band member with national sensation, The Lynn Morris Band. It's always great to listen to Ronnie. Simply put, he knows how make any song sound better. In closing I would be remiss not to mention the exceptional songwriting of Craig Market and Wayne Winkle.

To obtain a copy of this release, contact Sugar Hill Records, PO Box 55300, Durham, NC 27717-5300 or the Blueridge fan club at PO Box 4034, Asheboro, NC 27204.