‘Coffee Creek’ from Slocan Ramblers - bluegrass with style(October 14, 2015)
Despite traditional images, nothing says that bluegrass pickers have to be wizened, bib and brace wearing old men from the Eastern United States. After all, geographically the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Canada to Cheaha Mountain in Alabama and the influences of Appalachian or bluegrass music spreads much further and wider. The new album, ‘Coffee Creek’ from Toronto's Slocan Ramblers ranges just as freely within and without the bounds of tradition, delivering bluegrass with style - super slick and blisteringly fast instrumentals combined with poignant, lonesome songs. The combination of hard-driven banjos, guitars, mandolin and solid bass working with standout vocals and harmonies make this an album that most definitely carves its own path yet stays as true to its roots as you could wish.
Slocan Ramblers ensure the pedigree of tradition lives and breathes through ‘Groundhog’ and ‘Rambling Sailor’ and an accomplished take on Woody Guthrie’s ‘Pastures of Plenty’ and add their own spark of innovation through tunes and songs like ‘Coffee Creek’, Galilee’, ‘Elk River’ and the longing of ‘Angeline’. There’s an authenticity to this album that’s often missing from studio albums and that can only come from artists that not only understand their music and know where it’s going, but also hold serious respect for where it comes from.
Slocan Ramblers are: Frank Evans (banjo, guitar, lead and harmony vocals) Adrian Gross (mandolin) Darryl Poulsen (guitar, lead and harmony vocals)and Alastair Whitehead (acoustic bass, banjo, lead and harmony vocals.
Review: Tom Franks