Anyone who’s made the rounds of the Virginia/North Carolina fiddler’s convention circuit in the past few years has probably seen the Destination Bluegrass Band at least once. The group, based out of central North Carolina, is a frequent flyer – and winner – at festival competitions, and bluegrass fans throughout that region have come to enjoy their traditional stylings. The group has recently released a new Gospel album, Over on the Other Shore, filled with a collection of well-written band originals, as well as a few old standards and hymns.
The title cut is also the album’s first single. Written by the band’s fiddle player, Randy Willard, it’s a thoughtful song about what heaven will be like. An upbeat, foot-tapper of a number, it is guided by Brad Johnson’s banjo. It was a good choice for a lead single, with earnest lead vocals and an enjoyable feel. Another strong song on the album is Time’s Coming Soon, although it has a very different sound, with a darker, brooding vibe and tight harmonies. The song finds the narrator asking for help and forgiveness from his sins.
The Maker’s Mark is a nice, bright, contemporary-sounding song. The title plays on the popular bourbon brand, contrasting its former prominence in the narrator’s life with a new lease on life brought about by Jesus. It’s cleverly written and full of conviction. Don’t Cry for Me is a bit of a tearjerker with its contemplation of a father’s passing, though its overall message is positive. “Don’t cry for me, son,” the father says, “my time has finally come. No pain, no rain, and it’s perfect all the time.” I’ve Been Blessed is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, opening with driving banjo. The singer reflects on both the various troubles and blessings in his life, asking God for continued help.
The album also includes fine versions of a few familiar old numbers. How Great Thou Art is always a powerful hymn. Here, it’s gentle and soft, with a peaceful melody led by the mandolin. Drifting Too Far from the Shore has a good traditional feel, as does Everybody Will Be Happy Over There. These two songs have very different sounds but are some of the album’s strongest.
Destination Bluegrass Band plays host to a group of talented musicians. In addition to Johnson and Willard, the band includes guitarist Keith Souther, mandolin player Boyd Hulin, and bass player Ronnie Edwards. Several group members also share lead and harmony singing duty.
Overall, Destination Bluegrass Band has provided listeners with a solid traditional bluegrass Gospel album. With a nice mixture of standards and originals, most folks should find something to enjoy here.
For more information on the band, visit their website. Their new album can be ordered through the group’s Facebook page.