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Gopher Broke Bluegrass

Broke Again – 2001 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Jonathan Colcord

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CDs by Gopher Broke Bluegrass

The sophomore release from northern New England's Gopher Broke Bluegrass showcases more strong material, heartfelt singing, and quality picking. 1999's "Caledonia County" was the sign of things to come for this excellent regional band. This equals the quality of that first effort with nine originals, and songs from the Stanley Brothers, Jim Shumate, Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt and the excellent traditional gospel, "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down."

Newly penned numbers include "Mother Don't Know Who I Am Anymore" written by mandolinist/vocalist Gary Darling which is reminiscent of the soulful delivery of James King. Darling has also written the Monroe-styled mandolin instrumental "Sacred Ground" in the master's later-period forboding tones, plus "When The Savior Calls Me Home." Fiddler Rich Hamilton, also the band's most prolific songwriter contributes "Bit Off A Little More Than We Could Chew," "Been There And Done That Before," "You Remind Me Of Someone" and "How Long." All band members, including bassist Chris Cruger contribute vocal harmony. "Coos County Jail," a song written by New Hampshire bluegrass songwriter Rick Lang, uses the genuine setting of the state's northern county. The underutilized vocal talents of guitar player Haze Smith are evident here. Old chestnuts include (pun intended) Jim Shumate's "Chestnut Mountain Rag," Flatt's "Working On A Road (To Glory Land)," Monroe's "Goin' Up Caney" and the two Stanley numbers "Little At A Time," and "Harbor Of Love."

The band's overall approach remains highly traditional, with an easily identifiable sound all their own.