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4.5 2
by King Wilkie

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Rebel Records


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Broke 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Their name inspired by Bill Monroe’s Tennessee walking horse, King Wilkie is a Virginia-based band that plays bluegrass that really gallops. While only in their twenties, their high-stepping traditional approach to the music illustrates the horsesense that often only comes with years of experience. King Wilkie’s first album, “True Songs,” was an independent release in 2003. Now, with their sophomore release, they have the support of the reputable Rebel Records label. The band plays well together with a feisty energy full of bluegrass oats, and their lively set on “Broke” offers plenty to enthuse fans of all ages. Just as they might open a bluegrass festival set, they blaze from the chute with a one-minute version of Ralph Lewis’ “40 West.” Tapping material from the backroads of the genre, they give us snappy renditions of the traditional “Little Birdie,” Jimmie Davis’ “Where the Old Red River Flows,” and Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel #7.” They cover Bill Cox’s “Sparkling Brown Eyes” and Will Ramsey’s “Some Glad Day.” Between band members Ted Pitney (lead guitar) and Reid Burgess (mandolin), the CD also includes six original tunes that offer some memorable lines such as Pitney’s “drifting away into loneliness,” and Burgess’ sentiments to “head down south to that old abode.” These are very common themes in bluegrass music and the subject matter for traditional music lovers. With their songwriting, I would encourage them to respect these traditional themes but to also strive for new inspiration messages that tell us things that haven’t been heard before. Pitney, for example, gives us a sad and tragic ballad with a new interpretive twist called “Lee and Paige,” about a young loving couple’s encounter with a train. “Broke Down and Lonesome” is getting some good airplay as a result of being featured on Prime Cuts of Bluegrass, Volume 68. Pitney and Burgess met at college in Ohio in 2000. After graduating in 2001, they moved to a Charlottesville farmhouse and got the band together that now also includes Drew Breakey (bass), John McDonald (guitar), Nick Reeb (fiddle), and Abe Spear (banjo). Pitney, Burgess and McDonald are the sextet’s vocalists. King Wilkie is a band with a lot of horsepower. Galloping in a traditional groove, they will go far on the bluegrass festival and concert circuit. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's hard to reconcile King Wilkie's music to their visual image. On record they sound like a mature, polished bluegrass act, but in photos and biographies, their age (they're all under 26) reveal them as old souls. The balance between tradition and youthful spark is a powerful one, combining crack instrumental skills and an obvious love of bluegrass with a willingness to stretch the boundaries. ¶ The opening instrumental, "40 West," stakes their instrumental claim right off the top. Fiddle and banjo, supported by guitar and string bass, form a lively mix. Their playing isn't the sort of flashy work of Ricky Skagg's Kentucky Thunder, providing instead a relaxed back porch feel. Nick Reeb's fiddle and Abe Spear's banjo breakout on traditional tracks like "Little Birdie," but more as flavorful instrumental transitions than solos in the spotlight. ¶ The band writes its signature more uniquely with their vocals, cranking up a youthful yodel for Jimmie Rogers' "Blue Yodel #7" and singing tight harmonies on their fine original compositions. The latter, much like their playing and singing, is surprisingly mature; the sophistication of their cover choices - including traditional tunes and titles by Rogers, Jimmie Davis and Billy Cox - informs their own songwriting. ¶ This is a delightful spin from a band with a bright future.