Track Premiere: Mary Evelyn from Wes Corbett’s banjo project

Wes Corbett, banjo player with the Sam Bush Band, has a banjo solo project coming December 4 called Cascade.

He has graciously agreed to let us share the first single today, Mary Evelyn, a highly lyrical banjo tune he recorded with Paul Kowert on bass, Sierra Hull on mandolin, Alex Hargreaves on fiddle, and Chris Eldridge on guitar.

Corbett is a perfect example of what creative young banjoists are producing with the instrument these days. Built on the foundation of the three finger style developed by Earl Scruggs, Wes combines those techniques with the wide open vistas that a more melodic approach offers to a composer and player. This song is arranged for a bluegrass quintet, as used by Bill Monroe, but with all the musicians applying the same sort of free thinking attitude in their accompaniment and solos.

The result is a highly listenable banjo instrumental, that feels as though it is telling a story through sound.

Wes tells us that the inspiration came from someone dear to him.

“Mary Evelyn was written for my grandmother on my mother’s side in 2013. The main melodic ideas came directly off the banjo, which wasn’t typical for my writing process that’s usually focused on using my voice to find melody. In the months leading up to making this record I spent a huge amount of time working on arrangements with co-producer Chris Eldridge, and Mary Evelyn was consistently a quagmire. We struggled to figure out exactly how to bring it to life, but when this spectacular band finally got together it became clear that we should just treat it like we were jamming on a fiddle tune. The whole thing fell into place and it’s now one of my favorite tracks on the record.”

See what you think…

Mary Evelyn is available now wherever you stream or download music online. The full Cascade project will release on December 4 on Padiddle Records.

For more details, visit Wes online or via his social media accounts.

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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.