She serves currently as mandolinist with Mountain Fever recording artists, No One You Know, whose first album, Calm Before The Storm, led them to be invited as an official showcase act at the 2011 IBMA World of Bluegrass convention. Despite the anonymity implied in the band’s name, they maintain an active performance schedule, with Rachel’s lead and tenor vocals a prominent part of their sound.
Before joining the band, Rachel graduated from the bluegrass music program at Glenville State College, which she credits with helping her establish a network in the bluegrass world, and getting a handle on performing in a professional setting.
“I graduated from Glenville State in 2007 and the experience offered me many opportunities to play various gigs, and go places I had never been before. I was able to play on stage with people such as Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, Ronnie Reno & the Reno Tradition, and The Dillards. Since Lizzy Long and I were in the Bluegrass Program at the same time, we also played with Little Roy Lewis a few times.
Lizzy and I went on to play together in the all girl band Mountain Fury after college, along with Lizzy’s twin, Rebekah, and our other good friend, Eileen Marsh.”
Hearing Rachel out front on this new album clearly demonstrates just what a legitimate triple threat she is. A solid picker, a strong singer, and a superb songwriter is how I might describe this particular three-legged stool. 7 of the 12 tracks are her compositions, and they are the strongest on the CD.
The songs follow the themes common for bluegrass music, but from a decidedly female perspective. Three love-gone-wrong songs, Don’t You Worry About Me, Sorry You Will Be and Cost For Loving You, describe a confidence and forward-looking attitude, a flip side of the macho “drop dead” songs that form a distinct type in the bluegrass repertoire.
A real standout is Get On My Knees, a beautiful Gospel waltz number sung here by Amanda Smith. From the opening track, the influence of Kenny & Amanda Smith was evident, something that Burge readily admitted.
To tell you the truth, when I first received a copy of it from my engineer, I just played it over and over again in my CD player-for days! She and Kenny both sing on that song, and for me to sing a harmony on it with them is something I never thought I’d get to do. I’m really proud of that song!”
Balsam Range’s Buddy Melton also contributes lead vocals one of Rachel’s songs, She Walked Away.
A pair of mandolin instrumentals are also included, East Tennessee Blues and Daybreak In Dixie, showing that she can pick as well as she can sing.
Assisting throughout is a solid cast of musicians. Ramie Bennet plays banjo, Bruce Jones is on reso-guitar and bass, Lance Gainer on guitar, and Ray Cossin on fiddle. Harmony vocals were provided by Robin McLaughlin, Eileen March and Krista Chapman. Other special guests were Kenny Smith on lead guitar and Ron Stewart on fiddle for one track each.
While the lead vocal contributions on Don’t You Worry About Me from bluegrass heavyweights like Amanda Smith and Buddy Melton surely add to the overall heft of the project, I can’t say that I enjoyed them more than the ones Burge handled herself.
And she comes by her vocal skills through repetition. Rachel’s day job is teaching music and choir in a West Virginia middle school.
This is one very talented young lady, with much to contribute to our music. One expects that recording artists will soon be knocking on her door looking for new material.
Full track streams, physical CD sales and digital download purchases are available at her official web site. The album is also available from popular download sites.
About the Author (Author Profile)
John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.
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