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Side by Side

Side by Side

5.0 1
by Blueridge
Bluegrass is in, and as a result, bluegrass bands are proliferating like blades of fescue in springtime. Blue Ridge started carving out its place in the crowded field in 1999 with Common Ground, and in 2002 with Come Along With Me. Now, mandolinist Alan Bibey, guitarist Junior Sisk, fiddler


Bluegrass is in, and as a result, bluegrass bands are proliferating like blades of fescue in springtime. Blue Ridge started carving out its place in the crowded field in 1999 with Common Ground, and in 2002 with Come Along With Me. Now, mandolinist Alan Bibey, guitarist Junior Sisk, fiddler Alan Johnson, bassist Ed Biggerstaff, and banjoist Joey Cox return in 2003 with Side by Side, an album steeped in tradition, but never a mere throwback. Perhaps realizing that it couldn't build a reputation on having two guys in the band named "Alan," Blue Ridge has developed a couple of strong calling cards. First, the band adds a number of original songs, including the title cut, to an eclectic song list. Both Sisk and Bibey adeptly handle most of the lead vocals, altering between old-fashioned heartbreakers like "You Better Get," and slightly more up-to-date heartbreakers like "Do What You Want to Do."The glue that holds it all together is the group's tight harmony, especially on gospel numbers like "Land of Light," and their all-around crack musicianship. Side by Side ends with the rabble-rousing "Pocket Full of Money," a fine ode to blowing all of your money to have a good time. Fans of Blue Ridge will likewise be happy to blow a little of their money on Side by Side.

Product Details

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Blueridge   Primary Artist
Alan Johnson   Fiddle,Bass (Vocal),Baritone (Vocal),Tenor (Vocal)
Junior Sisk   Guitar,Vocals,Tenor (Vocal)
Alan Bibey   Mandolin,Vocals,Baritone (Vocal),Tenor (Vocal)
Ed Biggerstaff   Bass,Vocals,Baritone (Vocal),Tenor (Vocal)

Technical Credits

Jesse Winchester   Composer
Wesley Golding   Composer
Maria Sangiolo   Composer
Dean Davis   Cover Photo
Alan Bibey   Composer
Jon Weisberger   Liner Notes
Harry Sisk   Composer
Blueridge   Producer
Jerry Organ   Composer
David Johnson   Composer
Wesley Easter   Producer,Engineer

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Side by Side 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don’t think that “BlueRidge” is the greatest name for a bluegrass band, but their music will certainly leave an indelible image on your memory banks. The quintet, formed in 1998, now has three albums under their belt with the release of “Side by Side.” Their two previous efforts, “Common Ground” (1998) and “Come Along With Me” (2002), sold well and introduced us to their cohesive neo-traditional bluegrass sound characterized by some good material selection. It could be that the band’s rather blasé band name is the antithesis of their hard-hitting, professional music. Perhaps “BlueRidge” simply represents an expression of their cool, relaxed, nonchalant, yet still workmanlike, approach to bluegrass. Jon Weisberger’s liner notes, however, explains that the band has fashioned their sound to draw “on the discoveries of an entire cluster of musicians based in the Blueridge region of western Virginia and North Carolina.” While BlueRidge has seen banjo-player Terry Baucom and fiddler Dewey Brown move on to other endeavors, their current configuration has some impressive pickers and singers: Alan Bibey (mandolin), Junior Sisk (guitar), Joey Cox (banjo), Alan Johnson (fiddle), and Ed Biggerstaff (bass). Nine of 13 tracks feature the lead singing of Junior Sisk, whose emotionally-charged vocalizing is equally comfortable with tempos ranging from slower numbers like “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” and the classic “All the Good Times” to songs like the peppy opener, “What If (Then I’ll Come Back To You)” and closer “Pocket Full of Money.” His own original “You Better Get” exclaims “Well I better get while the getting’s good.” In the late 90s, Sisk toured the U.S. and Europe with his band, Rambler’s Choice, as part of their “Songs from the Mountains” project. Besides Sisk’s lead vocals, another of BlueRidge’s strengths is their instrumental prowess. No one epitomizes that better than Alan Bibey, with his 1923 Lloyd Loar Gibson F-5 mandolin, who has made a name for himself with IIIrd Tyme Out and The New Quicksilver. Few people know that Bibey can claim to be a world champion player, having won the mandolin contest at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville. Even his 1983 stint with Wes Golding’s band, Sure Fire, might have helped BlueRidge rediscover Golding’s old mountain home song, “Back to Cana” for this project. Bibey’s self-penned instrumental, “Avalanche” burns a few barns enroute, but his lead vocals on his original ballad, “Side by Side,” seemed to lack some energy, perhaps as a result of arranging the song in the lower region of Bibey’s vocal range. All of the songs only span two to three minutes, and this effectively places the emphasis on the songs themselves, while the instrumental accompaniment supplements their messages. The other performers on this recording are also very fine bluegrass players. Bass-player Eddie Biggerstaff has played with Larry Rice, Rambler’s Choice and Herschel Sizemore. While many of BlueRidge’s arrangements feature his tenor harmony, Eddie steps up the plate and sings lead with a lot of credibility and conviction on “Back to Cana.” Alan Johnson has a lyrical, fluid and precise approach to bluegrass and country fiddling, and has done stints with Pam Tillis, Larry Cordle and Lorrie Morgan. Young banjo-player Joey Cox had big shoes to fill when he joined the band just weeks before completion of this album. However, he rose to the challenge and imparts some breaks and rhythmic intensity to “Side by Side” that are remarkably powerful. BlueRidge demonstrates that they’re a top-notch band with all the necessary ingredients to go far. They execute their music with great skill, and there