Getting Better All the Time

Sunday Morning Gospel (Independent)
Bluegrass 101

By Bob Mitchell

Sunday Morning Gospel is the fifth release from Louisville-area band Bluegrass 101 and it is the group's best effort to date. The band's first all-gospel recording demonstrates new confidence and maturity.

Founding members Terry Waldridge and Michael Yount remain the reliable cornerstones for BG 101. Waldridge provides steady rhythm guitar and he adeptly handles all lead vocals, while Yount contributes an unfaltering acoustic bass line and baritone vocals. Some of Waldridge's best vocal performances on the album include an energetic cover of Carter Stanley's classic, "Hallelujah I'm Ready," a heartfelt Waldridge original called "Nobody Lives Here Anymore" and a spirited "Lord Watch For Me." (If Waldridge, a dairy farmer, sings this pleasantly to his herd, those cows probably give some of the sweetest milk in Kentucky.)

The centerpiece of this recording is a compelling a capella rendering of "Walking Down God's Road," an original song from fiddler Jim Armstrong. Armstrong also contributes another strong original song, "Sunday Morning," fine tenor vocals (notably on "Lord Watch For Me") and smooth bow work on Ralph Stanley's soulful waltz, "Darkest Hour," and the exuberant "Gotta Have Faith." Ben Read and Mark Royal provide outstanding mandolin chops throughout the release but no more so than in "Long Black Train" and "Sunday Morning." Travis Reynolds completes the band on banjo and bass vocals. I especially enjoyed his work on John Duffy's "Heavenward Bound."

Bluegrass gospel legend Paul Williams asserts in his liner notes that BG 101 is "a down-to-earth, hard-driving group. They feel what they play and it comes across clearly ... ." I would have to agree.

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