Luke McKnight is the son of Gwen McReynolds, the oldest of Jesse’s four children. He has worked as part of the Virginia Boys since 1994 or 1995 when he joined on a part time basis and, I recall, he piqued my interest in him when I heard him singing on Our Kind Of Country (Pinecastle PRC 1108). In fact, I had missed his contributions to an earlier CD A Gift For Keith, recorded as a benefit for the late Keith McReynolds, Luke’s uncle. McKnight is also among the musicians on other Jesse McReynolds’s CDs since then, as well as releasing his debut album in 1999.
More recently, McKnight has decided to go out on his own, form a band – Luke McKnight & Thunder Road – and make another album. The current band members are Daniel Grindstaff, on banjo; Kent Blanton, on bass; Steve Thomas, on fiddle; and Garrett McReynolds (Jesse’s other grandson) on guitar and tenor vocals.
McKnight recently announced the availability of that self-released album, Leader Of The Band. Recorded last year in Steve Thomas’ Gain Train Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee, it features McKnight (mandolin and lead vocals), Grindstaff (banjo), Blanton (bass), Thomas (guitar and vocals, as well as fiddle) Donny Catron (vocals), Tommy White (Dobro ¬Æ), Carl Jackson (vocals) and Scott Vestal (banjo).
The CD comprises an interesting mix of material, beginning with The Beatles’ I’ve Just Seen A Face. There are a few other older songs including Rovin’ Gambler, Eastbound Freight Train, Lizzy Lou and Don’t Fall In Love With a Rambler, along with newer songs, such as the title cut, Mr. Right Now (written by Garth Brooks) and 2000 Years Ago, a Gospel song written by Jesse McReynolds.
Additionally, there are two instrumentals – Showboat Ride and the McKnight composition The Crossing, another showcase for the cross-picking style of mandolin playing.