Timber Train from Bluegrass at the Crossroads

Bluegrass at the Crossroads is the title of an interesting project from Mountain Home Music. The title has a number of connotations, referring to the twin directions that bluegrass music is traveling in – traditional/contemporary and progressive/jamgrass – and the combining of artists from both schools on this recording. It also can’t be forgotten that Mountain Home is a part of the Crossroads Label Group.

Regardless of the title or its true meaning, the music from this series has been memorable, with one track, Groundspeed, played by Kristin Scott Benson, being named the IBMA Instrumental Recording of the Year for 2021.

This week another single is released which finds mainstream pickers like Sammy Shelor on banjo, Carley Arrowood on fiddle, and Wayne Benson on mandolin, paired with jamgrassers Travis Book on bass, Joe Cicero on guitar, and John Cloyd Miller on the lead vocal. Book and Arrowood provide harmony vocals.

The play together on Timber Train, a new song written by Thomm Jutz, Charley Stefl, and Jon Weisberger, who is producing all the tracks.

Miller say that the song describes lumber company practices that once ravaged the southern US. Fortunately, modern forestry management is as focused on replanting as it is harvesting, leading to an overall increase in tree-covered acreage in the US since those early days.

Timber Train is a commentary on unchecked resource extraction policies that emerged in the Colonial Era and continue in some industries even to this day. The Southern Appalachian logging boom began in earnest in the 1880s, and continued through the 1920s, with extensive environmental and social impacts on the region. Outside timber barons would often ‘cut and run’ with little regard for local communities or conservation efforts. Let us hope that we can continue to value our shared heritage over short-term financial gain for the few.”

Check it out…

Timber Train will be available on June 3 from popular download and streaming services online. Radio programmers can get the track now via AirPlay Direct.

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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.