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Mashville Brigade

Bluegrass Smash Hits Volume I – 2008 (Rural Rhythm)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Mashville Brigade

The Mashville Brigade is a mostly informal group of young bluegrass musicians who have a weekly picking session at Nashville's Station Inn. Members Darrell Webb (The Rage), Aaron McDaris (The Grascals), Jim Van Cleve (Mountain Heart), Randy Barnes (NewFound Road) and Ashby Frank (Special Consensus) started playing together whenever circumstances allowed, and this evolved to the Station Inn stage.

Bluegrass fans share a love for the tunes that helped shape this music and you'll hear from the stage and around campfires melodies that have been played a thousand times like "Sally Goodin'" and "John Henry." Instead of striking out into new territory with songs they have written or found, the Brigade pays homage to these old standards, and they do it in fine style. These are excellent musicians and singers and, even if you've heard these songs hundreds of times before, every minute proves enjoyable.

Recorded "live" (on the Inn's stage without overdubs, but no audience), the interaction between the musicians is apparent as they give a hot rendition of "White House Blues," Webb sings a great version of "Little Maggie" with breakneck instrumental work behind him, and they swing into "Salt Creek." This is pure bluegrass done in great fashion. The only thing missing is the smell of the smoke as you stand around the campfire.