Many bluegrass, old time, and country music fans, and surely readers of Bluegrass Today, are likely familiar with the Carter Family of Southwest Virginia. They were a major part of the seminal 1927 Bristol Sessions, which laid down the pathway for modern country music to follow. However, there are some more recent Carters paving their own way to musical success. Brothers Tim and Danny Carter of High Point, North Carolina, have recently released a new album, The Road to Roosky, on Compass Records.
Their 11 song, fifty-some minute disc pays homage to their roots while largely existing as a contemporary newgrass album. The Road to Roosky features electric instruments and percussion alongside traditional bluegrass instruments like fiddles, mandolins, and banjos. Having been enchanted by blues and black gospel musicians like Blind Willie Johnson, the Carter Brothers draw from many sources of influence.
Some tunes, like the album’s opener Woman at the Well, appear as rock-n-roll influenced pieces, while others like What Does the Deep Sea Say are arranged in a more traditional fashion, paying homage to their family’s history. The album’s title track about an armless vagabond has a really interesting banjo intro which aligns closer to blues guitar playing than Scruggs-type lead picking. Other standout numbers include Deep Ellum Blues and a very special version of Jerusalem Moan which includes the late Vassar Clements fiddling, singing, and even scatting a bit.
In typical Compass Records fashion, the new release from the Carter Brothers pushes the limits of bluegrass yet again. Brothers Tim and Danny are excellent artists in their own right, and have assembled a host of great musicians to accompany them on Road to Roosky. Guest performers include Sam Bush, Ferrell Stowe, Tim O’Brien, Danny Reid, Dann Sherill, and Ross Sermons.
If you like your rock with a little banjo, then check out these guys! Perhaps the music they are creating belongs in new genre – “Bluesgrass” or “Block?” Either way, this isn’t the standard 1-4-5 drive album commonly associated with the bluegrass music genre. This album may not be well-suited for Monroe disciples, but a great deal of respect must be given to the work these artists have done.
For more information regarding the music of the Carter Brothers, or to see where they’ll be performing near you, please visit their website at www.carterbrothersband.com.