Up and Coming From Tennessee

White House (Pinecastle Records)
White House

By Bob Mitchell

White House first played together in Louisville at the 2002 IBMA convention. Most Bluegrass fans will recognize the names of each group member: David Parmley is known for his work with the Bluegrass Cardinals and Continental Divide; Larry Stephenson for his work with the Bluegrass Cardinals and his own band; Missy Raines as a former IBMA bass player of the year and for her work with Jim Hurst, IBMA guitarist of the year; Jason Carter as IBMA fiddle player of the year and member of the Del McCoury Band; and Charlie Cushman for his work with Jimmie Martin and Mike Snider.

This self-titled debut is from five outstanding musicians, all of whom live in White House, Tenn., thus the name. The press kit proclaims the group is "Bluegrass's newest and most exciting supergroup." Indeed, they are. It is a reviewer's dream come true. I was hooked after the opening 32 bars and 36 minutes later my cup was running over with auditory satisfaction. White House plays 100-proof, straight-ahead, no-nonsense bluegrass the way Mr. Monroe meant for it to be played.

Parmley (guitar) and Stephenson (mandolin) share lead vocals. Parmley's usual vitality is evident in a forceful rendition of Randall Hylton's poignant "Mother is Gone" and the fast moving "Rock Bottom." Stephenson's vocal highlights include perceptive covers of the Osborne Brothers' "Searching For Yesterday" and Jim and Jessie's "Drifting and Dreaming Of You."

Raine's bass provides the ultimate underpinning for this exciting release. She's at her best on "Don't Hold Your Breath" and "Who Done It." Carter's bow work is consistently first rate and Charlie Cushman's banjo and guitar work is equally impressive. These two men are exceptionally fine on Bill Clifton's instrumental "Cedar Grove" and "Cotton Eyed Joe" (PD).

Basically, it was nigh impossible to select a favorite track because there is not a weak cut on this project. On a five-point scale of excellence, this release is a five-plus.