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Blue Ridge
Side By Side

Review By Steven Stone
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Blue Ridge Side By Side

CD Number: Sugar Hill Records SUG-CD-3981 

 

  Although mandolin aficionados would describe Blue Ridge as "Alan Bibey's regular band," their latest release, Side by Side, proves that first class bluegrass music is a collaborative effort. This third release on Sugar Hill records cements Blue Ridge's place as one of the top bands in America.

Blue Ridge began in 1998 as a reunion of the New Quicksilver band. Original members included Terry Baucom on vocals and banjo, Alan Bibey on vocals and mandolin, Randy Graham on vocals and bass, and Wayne Winkle on vocals and guitar. Bibey is the only member from the original band roster in the current lineup. Other members include Junior Fisk on vocals and guitar, Alan Johnson on fiddle, Ed Biggerstaff on vocals and bass, and Joey Cox on banjo. Three first class vocalists coupled with four super-pickers guarantees that every song is peppered with musical firepower. Perfect three part harmonies on songs such as "Land of Light" contrast with blistering instrumentals such as Alan Bibey's tune "Avalanche." Junior Sisk also contributes a fine new song; the country swing influenced "You Better Get." A majority of the material on Side by Side is traditional classic tunes such as Jesse Winchester's "Brand New Tennessee Waltz," Elemer Burchette's "Do What You Want to Do," Wayne Parrish's "Pocke Full of Money," and the public domain song "All The Good Times Are Gone."

Recorded and mixed by co-producer Wes Easter at the Eastwood Recording Studio in Cana, VA (Blue Ridge even has a song "Back to Cana" all about their studio's home town), the sound on Side by Side has a natural ease and clarity that highlights the music. Each part retains its individuality while blending with the others to create a tight mellifluous whole. Bluegrass fans can guarantee themselves a musically satisfying new year by adding Side by Side to their CD library.

 

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