Cullen’s Bridge was formed about three years ago with the intention that the band perform in the way that Mickey Galyean’s father, Cullen Galyean, did. Hard-core traditional bluegrass is the order of the day.
From the traditionally rich area of Lowgap, North Carolina, Galyean junior (guitar and lead and tenor vocals) teams up with esteemed songwriter Rick Pardue (banjo, three finger style guitar, tenor and baritone vocals), Brad Hiatt, (bass, lead, tenor and baritone vocals) and Jordan Blevins, (fiddle, baritone and bass vocals).
On Rollin’ with Tradition (Galyean Family Records 12013), they demonstrate that they are not a ‘tribute band’ but a very strong group with great original material at the core of their repertoire. They have two very strong song-writers in Pardue (IBMA Song of the Year winner in 2012 with A Far Cry from Lester & Earl) and Hiatt. The former has penned the hell-for-leather, Bell of the Ball, and the more sedate Blood on Mama’s Apron, about a tell-tale sign that easily establishes guilt. The strength of these two songs is easily recognisable and they are rightly the lead-off and follow-up tracks.
Hiatt composed You Just Broke My Heart Tonight (James King sings lead on this track), Kneel Down, remarkable for the very impressive closing harmonies, and Betty Jean’s Last Ride (written with the aid of Rick Pardue and notable for its kick-off).
Also very worthy, for their Stanley Brothers’ style treatment, are Cullen Galyean’s Lonely River and Bill Monroe’s rarely-covered You Better Get Right, which also features James King singing lead.
>Another track that bridges the father-son divide is May I Sleep in Your Barn Tonight Mister?, recorded by Mickey’s father for a 1984 Folkways’ release Let Me Fall (with Bobby Harrison).
Tenderly Calling (Come on Home) is another good slower tempo offering.
The quartet wraps things up with W.S. Bryson’s up-tempo Riding the L & N.
Rollin’ with Tradition (Galyean Family Records 12013) has it all; solid picking, great lead singing and vocal harmonies, real lonesome tunes, a train song and some Gospel music. It should more than satisfy those who yearn for real hard-driving, hard-core bluegrass music.