Bluegrass bands can be divided along generational lines. You can listen to old timers, such as Ralph Stanley, established pros like Del McCoury, and young Turks. King Wilkie fits securely into the last category. With no one in the band over the age of 26, this Charlottesville, Virginia-based band creates music combining bluegrass drive and attitude with contemporary sensibilities. On their first Rebel records release King Wilkie (the name of Bill Monroe's favorite horse,) provide ample evidence that traditional bluegrass will survive well into the middle of this century.
King Wilkie consists of Drew Breakey on bass, Reid Burgess on mandolin and vocals, John McDonald on guitar and vocals, Ted Pitney on lead guitar and vocals, Nick Reeb on fiddle, and Abe Spear on banjo. The songs on the album include standards such as "Blue Yodel #7," and "Little Birdie," as well as original songs by band members Reid Burgess and Ted Pitney. The best original, "All Night Blues," has the drive of a classic Flatt and Scruggs arrangement, due in no small part to the powerful banjo playing. The hot fiddle work combined with a precise mandolin solo and fine harmony singing complete this special delivery musical package.
On covers such as "Blue Yodel #7" King Wilkie maintains the spirit of the original while providing an extra dollop of youthful drive.
Production values on Broke rival anything I've heard from far more established bands. Producer Bob Carlin and engineer John Plymale deliver a refined yet alive sound that presents King Wilkie in an ideal sonic light. Even during moments of frenzied picking the sound remains clear and articulate. David Glasser, the master at Airshow Mastering, put the finishing touches on this CD. His work is almost like a Betty Crocker seal of sonic approval on a project: once a disc has gone through his ministrations it always perfectly done.
I'm looking forward to seeing King Wilkie this summer on the festival circuit. Their first album promises great things for this young vibrant bluegrass band.