A Tight and Thrilling Ride

Let The Ride Begin (Pinecastle)
The Circuit Riders

By Bob Mitchell

After the untimely death of legendary Charlie Waller, three members of the Country Gentlemen decided to form their own band. Greg Corbett (banjo), Darin Aldridge (mandolin) and Billy Gee (bass) approached Greg Luck (guitarist and former member of IIIrd Tyme out) and Jaret Carter (Dobro player extraordinaire) who liked the idea of an opportunity to strike out on their own. Thus, the Circuit Riders Band was formed. Their tightly executed debut recording showcases close harmonies and outstanding instrumental firepower. And I'm not alone in my thinking. Marty Raybon says, "When you hear them, you know you are in for bluegrass that works. Timing and drive, the kind that makes fans of this music, they've got it!"

The pleasantly warm voices of Luck, Carter and Aldridge alternate lead vocals to provide a satisfying mix of tempos and subject matter. For example, there is straight-ahead cover of Neil Young's dramatic "Powderfinger;" a poignant love story about a hard working couple ("Katie and Burl"); a touching version of "Mama, What Does Heaven Look Like There" (another extraordinary song from the prolific pens of Tom T. and Dixie Hall) and "Colder and Colder," which deals with a traveling musician's difficulty in maintaining close relationships.

Two of my favorite cuts are instrumentals. Carter's original "Pickett's Charge" lets everyone show their stuff and one of the best covers I've ever heard of the Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' classic, "Foggy Mountain Special," with an outstanding solo from bassist Gee. In fact, Gee is the unsung hero and workhorse on each cut. A tip of the reviewer's hat goes to Gee for understanding a bass provides the band's foundation and is not an instrument designed to overpower every member of the band.

My only concern was the use of unnecessary and distracting percussion on several tracks. However, listeners who are looking for a contemporary recording of classic bluegrass will enjoy this CD. So latch onto a copy and, as the project title suggests, "Let the ride begin."

For more information go to www.thecircuitriders.com.