Knocked Out

Broke (Rebel Records)
King Wilkie

By Bob Mitchell

Zap! Wham! Pow! No, this is not a review for an episode of "Batman," but rather my honest response to this album - these young men knocked my socks off. King Wilkie is an energetic group loaded with talent and I was hooked after the first minute. "Broke" is an excellent mix of original and seasoned melodies designed to satisfy new and old audiences with the soulful sounds of traditional bluegrass.

Ted Pitney (lead guitar and vocals) wrote the barn-burning "All Night Blues" and adds a wicked guitar solo. In addition, he penned the heartbreaking "Lee and Paige," "Drifting Away," and "Broke Down And Lonesome." Reid Burgess (mandolin and vocals) contributes two original songs: "It's Been A Long Time," and the poignant "Goodbye So Long." His mandolin chops are exciting and consistent throughout the project. Abe Spear's banjo is noteworthy in "Blue Yodel #7."

The acoustic bass can make or break a bluegrass band and Drew Breakey's acoustic bass makes this band. He is the glue that holds the band together with rock solid support. (A tip of the reviewer's hat for understanding that a bass should not overpower an entire band.) Other members of the group include John McDonald (guitar and vocals) and Nick Reeb (fiddle).

The release also has four first-rate covers: Jimmie Davis' "Where The Old Red River Flows," the ever popular "Little Birdie," "Sparkling Brown Eyes," popularized by Webb Pierce and Jimmie Roger's "Blue Yodel #7."

King Wilkie was the name of Bill Monroe's favorite horse and now, it is a great name for a great bluegrass band. The group was featured article in the June issue of Bluegrass Now, won the 2003 SPBGMA International Band Competition and shared the stage of Nashville's Station Inn with powerhouse groups such as The Lonesome River Band and The Nashville Bluegrass Band.

KW has a terrific future, but I must offer three pieces of advice: 1) Musically, don't change a thing; 2) Future liner notes should specify who sings lead, who sings harmony and who provides rhythm guitar. I especially appreciated some of the closed chord work but was uncertain whom to credit; 3) Only one picture shows two band members with a smile. For future cover art, feature magazine articles and public relation photographs, learn to smile. Current pictures make you appear angry or unhappy. That's unfortunate because you are one of the most enjoyable new groups I've heard in years.