The New Essex Bluegrass Band has released its first CD, entitled Hot Off The Press.
The New Essex Bluegrass Band has been in existence since 1994 and has been one of the UK’s most popular traditional bluegrass acts from the beginning. Typical of bluegrass the band has experienced many personnel changes in its 14 year existence. The present line-up is Paul Brewer (guitar, lead and baritone vocals), Terry Hymers (mandolin, tenor vocals), Mike Stanhope (bass, lead and baritone vocals), Grahame Turner (banjo) and Greg Smith (fiddle). However, the banjo player heard on Hot Off The Press is Dixon Smith, currently back in his native USA, playing with GrassKickers from Fresno, California.
The CD has been more than a year in the making and contains a mixture of the songs that the New Essex Bluegrass Band has played since it was founded, plus some more recently learned material.
All the material, except for the Louvin Brothers’ song The Angels Rejoiced Last Night, has been part of the bluegrass catalogue for some time or other. There are a couple of Monroe numbers, one from the early days, True Life Blues, and a tune from the Kenny Baker era, Lonesome Moonlight Waltz. Two other classics are The Lonesome River and I’ll Take The Blame. Alongside these are two songs associated with Jimmy Martin, Pretending I Don’t Care and That’s How I Can Count On You.
Of more recent vintage are Keith Little’s Till The Day I Die, the Jonathan Edwards song that he recorded with the Seldom Scene, How Long Have I Been Waiting For You, the quartet written by Keith Whitley and learned from Chris Jones, Zion’s Hill and another Gospel song, Solid Rock, from the Lonesome River Band’s repertoire.
The album begins with a favorite from Joe Val, a very popular visitor to the UK, namely Cold Wind. Strangely, the most obscure song to be included is the title track, brought to the band by Smith, who had recorded when with an earlier band, Hybrid Grass.
In all the CD features 18 tracks and samples of some can be accessed from the band’s web site, from whence more information about the band can also be found.
Here is a You Tube video of them performing the aforementioned Till The Day I Die.