The consensus is: talent

Route 10 (Pinecastle)
Special Consensus

By Bob Mitchell

Greg Cahill, banjo player extraordinaire, is the musical glue that has held Special Consensus together for twenty-seven years. The band has evolved through a variety of configurations with thirty different members, including the likes of Chris Jones.

The present group is no exception. Josh Williams is a first-rate vocalist as well as a mandolin virtuoso. Each one of these guys knows how to deliver a song, but Williams always seems to be out front with a little extra push. Jamie Clifton provides top-notch guitar work and his picking is particularly impressive on "Say You Will Stay In My Arms." In addition, Clifton provides a strong lead vocal on "If I Could Only Have Your Love," and a soulful rendition of Claire Lynch's gospel number, "Come Unto Me." Tim Dishman rounds out the foursome with his steady bass line and vocals (both lead and harmony).

Route 10 is the band's fourth Pinecastle release and it is a dandy one. "Amy and Trevor" contains a plaintive lead vocal from Williams and heart-breaking lyrics about a drunk driver who is responsible for the death of two family members. The release also contains two classy original instrumental tracks. Williams penned "This Ain't Alabama, Uncle George," while the romping "Cahill Special" comes courtesy of Greg Cahill. Williams also takes lead vocal duty on a swinging 4/4 arrangement of Paul Craft's "I'll Believe The Lie" and an excellent cover of Michael Martin Murphey's "Carolina In The Pines."

Some readers may not know it, but Special Consensus has been one of bluegrass music's most visible educational ambassadors since 1984. Bluegrass in the Schools Program is an original and innovative presentation offered through IBMA to teach the history bluegrass and the instruments used to make this uniquely American sound. According to the July issue of Bluegrass Now, the band does about 50-75 school programs a year with an average audience of about 350.

As I listened to this CD I became convinced that bluegrass music is in good. Special Consensus' sound is pure and its harmonies are tight. Bill Monroe would be proud. The band provides a taste of traditional, gospel, country, and swing, and does it with panache. A copy of this recording belongs in your library.

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