Tuesday, May 13, 2014


PRESCRIPTION BLUEGRASS CD REVIEW IMAGEAs I started to listen to this CD, “Carolina Memories,” by The Gentlemen Of Bluegrass, I couldn’t help but think of my Mother.

The word “gentleman” is one of those key words in my memory bank. It’s Mother’s Day and Mom’s been gone now since January 4th of 2011. She always told my brother and me that we needed to be gentlemen: open doors for the ladies, pull out their chairs for them at the dinner table, make sure we had a handkerchief (which she used to iron!) in our pants pocket and to use it if we needed to sneeze!

She also urged us to be gentle MEN. The first was not hard to remember, she reminded us frequently…the second was not always easy to accomplish.


I still try to be a gentle man today, and every day, just for her. She would have liked this CD for two reasons: #1 – The sound this quintet has is indeed gentle, and also calming, sacred, smooth and easy to listen to, and #2 – Mom loved country super star “Gentleman” Jim Reeves, and lead singer and guitarist Danny Stanley has a voice as warm, intimate and comforting as Mr. Reeves. Mom would have loved Danny’s voice. This CD has a completely different vocal timbre than what is often considered bluegrass “normal,” and the way these men sing together is proof that bluegrass music doesn’t always have to be high and lonesome to be good!

Mr. Stanley is joined by tenor vocalist and mandolin player Julian (J.C.) Rowland and baritone vocalist and resonator guitar man Tom Langdon on some of the nicest harmonies I’ve heard in a while. These three sound like they were born to sing together. Those of you who know me, know how picky I can be about how vocals are recorded, and how I hate it when the vocals are treated as merely an afterthought or not prioritized. I’m glad to say there is nothing here I feel the need to pick apart! Listen to their a cappella version of “Amazing Grace,” where they are joined by bass singer and arranger John Locust, and you will enjoy a rendition of the old classic not often heard this well done. Mom would have loved it, too!

Danny, J.C. and Tom are joined by Randy Smith on banjo and Greg Penny on upright bass as members of The Gentlemen of Bluegrass. Josh Goforth, fiddle, mandolin and guitar player extraordinaire for Lorraine Jordan’s band, Carolina Road, came into the studio with them and added just the right amount of frosting to an already tasty musical dessert. Lorraine also produced this CD and played some mandolin, as did Jan Johansson. Jason Moore was also utilized on some of the bass tracks.

"The Gentlemen of Bluegrass have delivered a very first class CD . . . I hope that bluegrass radio gets their hands on this one . . . Push this one hard Pinecastle Records!  The result could be this band stepping into the national and international spotlight."

-W.J. Hallock, Prescription Bluegrass

One of the reasons I was drawn to this CD was the fact that it was engineered, mixed and mastered by Wesley Easter of Eastwood Studio, Cana, Virginia. Wesley is a master, it’s just that simple … and he added his usual expertise to this project. Wesley has the reputation for being the “go-to-guy” in acoustic instrument recording, but, he also has the “ears” to do a super job of recording vocals. I’ve heard some absolutely wonderful lead vocals and beautiful harmony singing generated in his studio, and he’s done it again on this release. Lorraine and Wesley made this team effort a winner!

I know quantity doesn’t always equate to quality, but there are fourteen songs on this Pinecastle Records release, and not a misstep is taken when it came to song selection. The listener is getting his money’s worth here! Producer Lorraine Jordan wrote two, the CD’s title song, “Carolina Memories,” which is a great intro to this record and is totally radio friendly, and “Tribute to John Duffey,” which is an ode to the late bluegrass legend. Danny Stanley also gave two of his compositions to the effort in “God’s Country,” and one of my favorite cuts, “Big Jim.” Mr. Stanley should definitely keep writing, he has the knack. More songs by Danny and Lorraine should be included in the continuing studio adventures of this band. This combination of band, producer and studio call for another go.

The old Mac Wiseman song, “Blue Birds Calling,” is another HIT just waiting to be picked up by bluegrass radio. Josh kicks it off on fiddle and Tom’s resonator guitar is impeccable. The instruments do a call and response echo of each other on the solos and Danny and J.C.’s harmony is right on the money. What a good old song to pull back into the limelight!

“Waltz of the Angels” has J.C. overdubbing several nice tenor tracks with himself to start this traditional sounding song, with Danny then picking up the lead vocal. The resonator guitar is a natural for this song, as are the twin fiddles of Josh Goforth. Mr. Easter’s studio magic at it’s best.

Jason Moore kicks off “Travelin’ Kind” with some powerful doghouse bass on this minor key, uptempo gem that includes in your face “good” banjo and fiddle solos from Randy and Josh. AND, here again, the harmonies are nailed to the wall perfectly. This is another good one for radio airplay.

On “This Morning At Nine,” J.C. steps up and sings the lead vocal while Danny sings harmony for him. This reversal of roles works great, and Tom’s resonator is a standout performance on this cut. ANOTHER radio friendly song here, folks! Disc jockeys will have a field day choosing which song they think is THE hit from this CD.

One of my all time favorite songs, “Keep Me From Blowing Away,” by legendary song writer Paul Craft, is done to perfection, and I love this version. Tom’s resonator and Josh on mandolin kick this ¾ time song off and Danny’s lead vocal performance is spot on. J.C. and Tom make the harmony vocals shine, and the fiddle and mandolin solos from Josh are just plain sweet! Tom’s understated, and perfect for the song, resonator guitar sounds it’s very best on this tune. An outstanding recording…

Danny’s “God’s Country,” and “Will The Roses Bloom,” by Flatt and Scruggs add more strong traditional sounds to the CD, as does the Hal Bynum and George Jones classic “Old, Old House.” This almost ends up being a tribute album to some of the best song writers in country and bluegrass music.

I can’t remember the last time I heard a recitation song, as they are almost never done these days, but Danny uses his low, expressive voice to make “Father’s Table Grace” a distinct and memorable addition to the song list. The song is tender in it’s delivery, and the lyrics will soften the hardest of hearts. A father praying for his departing son’s well being is timeless, and this song is the CD’s emotional high point.

They saved one of the best songs for last … the up-tempo, gospel feeling “It’s A Long Lonesome Road,” by Bill Nettles, will make you want to clap right along with the band. Great pickin’, superb vocals, a tight arrangement and the song’s “easy to sing along to” chorus make for an excellent end to the recording.

The Gentlemen of Bluegrass have delivered a very first class CD, with help from a team that obviously has the band’s best interests at heart. Does this recording need to be in your collection? You bet it does. And, I hope that bluegrass radio gets their hands on this one. Push this one hard Pinecastle Records! The result could be this band stepping into the national and international spotlight.

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