We have been inundated recently with fine new CDs, so many that I fear we won’t be able to mention them all. It’s always fun to discover new artists (especially younger musicians), and to hear the releases from major labels, but it is a special treat when we can showcase deserving new projects from folks in our part of southwest Virginia (regional pride, and all that).
The Bluegrass Brothers have a long tradition in this area, going back well before they went full-time and started touring nationally a few years ago. The group was founded by brothers Victor and Robert Dowdy in 1989, who performed together until earlier this year when Robert left the group for a job in Roanoke with the railroad.
But the “bluegrass brothers” legacy lives on, as Victor’s sons Steven and Donald are also members of the band. Steven is on guitar and Donald mandolin, with Brandon Farley on banjo and original member Billy Hurt on fiddle. Dad plays bass, and all of the Dowdys contribute vocally.
Victor is a true old time, mountain style bluegrass singer, in the same mold that was used to create James King and Junior Sisk (another southwest Virginian!). Some of the edges may be rough, but the soulfulness is powerful – and unmistakable – with comparisons to Ralph Stanley nearly unavoidable.
Singing is clearly a trait that has been passed to his sons, and their trios have both the family blend and the unpolished sheen of the early Stanley Brothers recordings. They have an honesty and authenticity that you don’t learn in school.
Donald, the youngest of the brothers, really shines on this album. He has come into his own as a bluegrass singer at age 23, as evidenced by the opening and title track. As the saying goes, if you don’t like this, you don’t like bluegrass!
So Long: [http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegrasscast/so_long.mp3]
Pops gets his turn as well with a perennial Bluegrass Brothers live show favorite, Sugar Hill – which also features the wicked fiddling of Billy Hurt, who is underused on this recording.
Sugar Hill: [http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegrasscast/sugar_hill.mp3]
Is there a cooler lyric in old time music than “If you want to get your eye knocked out, if you want to get your thrill?” I didn’t think so.