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|Wayne Benson||Primary Artist|
|Tom Riggs||Executive Producer|
|Scott Vestal||Producer, Engineer|
|Bob Murray||Art Direction|
Posted October 1, 2010
Wayne Benson, from Charlotte, North Carolina, was born John Wayne Benson. Like the famous movie star, this young, stellar bluegrass musician definitely has true grit! He started playing mandolin at age 15, and he helped form the band "Livewire" in 1989 with Scott Vestal, Ernie Sykes and Robert Hale. Benson has been featured on the annual bluegrass CDs released by the Pinecastle label and has won numerous awards for his mandolin playing. He's picked with with the award-winning group IIIrd Tyme Out since late 1992. Now, Benson offers us an exceptional debut solo album with hot picking galore. Each of the twelve original tunes, written by Wayne, is a winner. They range from the bouncy (Tucker) to blazing (Chattanooga Breakdown), boisterous (Ole Rowdy) to blinding (Carpenter John). Tillery Cove starts with the feel of an Irish jig before going bluegrass ballistic. Blountville reminds me of an old-time fiddle tune with very contemporary sensibilities. Anxious Molly (inspired by his beagle), Red Tommy, and The Galt House Suite are three jazzy tunes that appear to exhibit a strong influence of David Grisman's dawg music. I especially enjoyed hearing Benson's mandola on the slower "Buck & Chloe." A nearly 7-minute ethereal tune, Spagnum Peat, ends the project on a contemplative note. All but four of the cuts on this album were previously released on Pinecastle's bluegrass instrumental series. Every piece includes inspired melodies, innovative instrumental work, and creative well-balanced arrangements. The tunes beautifully blend and overlay musical passages, accentuated with harmonies and counter-melodies. The resulting musical journey is like a patchwork quilt of interwoven multicolored hues. The sterling supporting artists are also responsible for a lot of the excitement on Benson's project. They include Scott Vestal (banjo), Rob Ickes (dobro), and Jeff Autry (guitar). Fiddle duties are very ably handled by Ron Stewart, Rickie Simpkins, Jim VanCleve, or Aubrey Haynie. Three different bass players (John Cowan,, Mike Anglin, and Irl Hees) are also featured on this fine project. This album is boss, or as they say in French, tray bone! Mighty fine! (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.