I have on several occasions bemoaned the difficulty of trying to give a fair listen to all the new projects that appear in our mailbox, or increasingly, via digital press distribution. Plain fairness, and sound news judgement, requires that I try to give them all a spin (or a click), to see if the music merits a mention here on Bluegrass Today, especially for new or regional acts.
Sometimes we discover pure gold, sometimes it’s more leaden. And sometimes we discover an act with whom we were unfamiliar even before they contact us
Such is the case with Windy Hill, a new young bluegrass band from California that defies a number of common stereotypes. A large segment of the music we receive from young acoustic groups tends to be more folk-themed, or even rock-oriented with an acoustic or bluegrass gloss. But Ryan Breen, Henry Warde, Kyle McCabe and Johnny Campbell have created a very traditional sound for Windy Hill, something that banjo player Breen tells us is more and more common in central and northern part of their state.
“California is undoubtedly experiencing a traditional bluegrass revolution, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California in general. People out here love traditional bluegrass and the picking that goes on around the West Coast bluegrass festivals is really impressive, especially considering that it’s California, and not exactly a traditional bluegrass state.
There are a lot of up and coming traditional bands out here, and our band is gaining a lot of momentum right now as people are attracted to our ‘traditional’ sound. We are by no means strictly traditional, but I guess we are in comparison to a lot of other bluegrass bands in California.
Traditional bluegrass is really making a comeback out here and it’s exciting to be a part of it and keep the flame burning.”
Their debut album, Let’s Go To The Fair, has just been released, with a mix of original and traditional bluegrass material. Most of the new songs come from Breen and mandolinist Warde, who founded the band together when they were living in Colorado.
Here’s one of the ones they wrote for the CD, with a real bluegrass title.
Highway 84: [http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegrasscast/highway84.mp3]
Ryan mentioned that Windy Hill will be participating in the RockyGrass band competition next month. Jason Lombard will be on hand shooting the festival for us, so perhaps we’ll get to see a photo of them in the winner’s circle?