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Dixie Bee-Liners

Susanville – 2009 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Dixie Bee-Liners

Although they have long been a staple of rock and roll music, concept albums focused on a singular theme or narrative are a rare species in country music and virtually unheard of in the bluegrass genre. That's why "Susanville" from Virginia's The Dixie Bee-Liners is one of the most revolutionary bluegrass releases in recent memory.

Based on the premise that "every car on the highway has a story," this album takes listeners on a journey through the roads of America and the people that travel them. Buddy Woodward, the group's mandolin player and co-founder, explains the concept even further, "Each song is a vignette about a different person in a different car or truck in a different highway in America, and they're all headed either to or from Susanville."

This premise gives the sextet the freedom to expand their sound and explore a lot of territory, both musically and emotionally. Songs like (I Need) Eighteen Wheels and Brake Lights recall lonely nights driving with only your thoughts and memories to keep you company, while the sunny Truck Stop Baby and the introspective Down are two of the more upbeat tracks.

The group really spreads its musical wings with the gorgeous group vocals of Lead Foot and Trixie's Diesel-Stop Cafe, a countrified profile of the owner/cook/waitress at a typical highway rest stop restaurant.

Have you ever sat in traffic and wondered what the person in the car beside you was thinking? The Dixie Bee-Liners take you inside those cars and answers those questions with "Susanville." Sit back and enjoy the drive.