Mike Bentley steps out with first solo project

Mike Bentley has spent the past ten years playing guitar and singing lead with Cumberland Gap Connection. He’s recorded three albums with the band, but decided that for his next studio effort, he would go it alone.

All I’ve Got was released last week on Union House Records, a label Mike runs with Jeff Brown. It was produced by Alan Bibey, with stellar bluegrass pickers like Justin Jenkins on banjo, Jason Moore on bass, Rob Ickes on reso-guitar, and Wyatt Rice on guitar. Bibey handles the mandolin, with Shawn Lane on fiddle and tenor vocals, and Ronnie Bowman singing harmony. Charlie Robertson from Flatt Lonesome shares a duet as well.

Bentley says that he finally felt ready this year to do his own project.

“Just kind of felt like this was the time to do a solo record, stretch out a little, and bring some other guys in from the industry that you don’t hear on every album.

I picked musicians and singers that I had wanted to work with, with Alan’s input. These are guys who I’ve followed for years, and are some of my favorite pickers and singers.”

Mike was born and raised in Pike County, KY, and lives there still today. He was picking as soon as he was old enough to hold an instrument, drawn by older brothers and uncles who played.

He joined Cumberland Gap Connection just before they cut their A Whole Lotta Lonesome album in 2010, and as former members have moved on, Mike has ended up leading the group.

His silky smooth and highly emotive voice draws comparisons to Ronnie Bowman, who also set a very high standard for solo projects while he was part of Lonesome River Band. Mike’s voice is pitched a bit lower than Ronnie’s, but he hopes that people will respond well to All I’ve Got.

“There is one original song of mine on this one. A lot of the others are songs that people had pitched me in the past, or pitched to Alan. He and I threw stuff back and forth until we were satisfied that we had all the right material.

We recorded at Wes Easter’s studio in Cana,VA, and did some overdubs at other studios. Greg Luck did the mix and master at his place. Greg would send rough mixes and we listened remotely, and shared our input.

I started out on mandolin, and Alan Bibey was my hero when I started learning to play. I couldn’t have done it without him – he treated it like it was his own.”

Have a listen to samples here below…

You can pick up a copy of All I’ve Got wherever you purchase bluegrass downloads, with CDs available from CD Baby. Radio programmers can get the tracks at AirPlay Direct.

So far, Mike says that reaction to the record has been good.

“The band has been pretty busy, and we are doing about half the album on live shows. Sales have been great at shows, and people seem to really like it.

I really appreciate Alan, and all these other folks who played on the album.”

You can find out more about Mike and the band online.

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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.

  • Dave Russell

    I listened to some of this album and all I have to say is………. Great job Mike! Tremendous all star line up with this CD, and Bentley’s vocals are smooth and easy to listen to. He reminds me of tony Rice in his earlier days.