Balsam Range – Last Train To Kitty Hawk

Balsam Range - Last Train To Kitty HawkCrossroads Music has announced January 20, 2009 as the release date for Last Train To Kitty Hawk, the sophomore effort from North Carolina’s Balsam Range. The CD will feature 12 tracks, mostly new songs, many of them written within the band.

Balsam Range consists of Marc Pruett on banjo, Caleb Smith on guitar, Darren Nicholson on mandolin, Tim Surrett on bass, and Buddy Melton on fiddle.

We had a chance recently to discuss the new project recently with Melton, and he shared a few thoughts about the songs, starting with the title cut.

The Last Train to Kitty Hawk was written by a couple of friends of mine in Nashville (James Ellis and Steve Dukes). I first heard the song several years ago and have been a fan of this song since.

The song is about progress and change.  ‘No nothing lasts forever,’  ‘They say progress makes us better….time ain’t standing still for any man… all aboard the last train to Kitty Hawk….’

I think it is such a well written song with a very artistic view of progress. Balsam Range was born in the Carolinas, as was the first flight. The connection of the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina made this song even more appealing.”

Balsam Range and Crossroads have agreed to allow us to post an audio sample of the song, which will be distributed to bluegrass radio early in ’09.

Listen now: []

Buddy also spoke about the process of collecting songs for the new album, something that will be familiar to most any recording artist.

“Finding material for a new project is always a challenge but is also one of fun parts of making a CD. Seeing a song come together from start to finish is rewarding. All the guys in Balsam Range are great at taking a song and making it fit the band. We really worked hard and finding and creating good variety of music for this second release.

There are several songs on this project written from within the band. I co-wrote the lead off track titled Julie’s Train. This song came from a jam session where several friends and I got together for the fun of it. Joe McElroy wrote a line or two, and we finished writing it that night. It is great for me to see this song on the Balsam Range project.  Knowing the history of how it came to be, and that it was written as a result of friends getting together for the fun of it, makes it really special.

Caleb Smith wrote a great haunting story song titled Jack Diamond that takes you back in time to the old west and makes you want to run out and watch The Outlaw Josey Wales. He also wrote a great instrumental piece titled Jaxon Point.

The name Milan Miller shows up again as a writer in this project. Milan is a friend and former band mate of mine. He wrote Calloway County Flood and co-wrote Burning Georgia Down for our last project.  On this one he wrote a song called Caney Fork River. It is definitely on of my personal favorites from this new project and a song that I had recorded several years back with Tony Rice and others but had not officially released nationally.

Anyone who has traveled west to Nashville will notice that you cross the Caney Fork River multiple times. That was the inspiration behind the song. The chorus asks the question how many times must I cross the Caney Fork River until I know that I am home free. This same chorus takes on a new meaning by the end of the song.

Several other well known writers such as Larry Cordle show up on this project as well.

This project was a lot of fun to create.  It has several old standards and one great older gospel song written by Dottie Rambo. The Dottie Rambo song (The Holy Hills) includes a guest appearance from Karen Peck Gooch.

We just wanted to represent all the aspects of Balsam Range. I am very proud of this project.

We are all looking forward to the release of Last Train To Kitty Hawk and traveling the country and meeting great folks along the way.”

You can find more information on Balsam Range on their web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

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.