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Full Steam Ahead (Independent)
By Bob Mitchell
Bardstown's Bluegrass 101 has performed for twelve years throughout Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee. They have five other recordings, including their acclaimed 2007 release, Sunday Morning Gospel.
As we enter 2008, the band continues to go Full Steam Ahead with a new release for a new year. As with each preceding release, the CD showcases solid traditional bluegrass, heartfelt vocals and reliable musical support. An appealing selection of songs is strongly influenced by classically familiar tunes such as Tom T. Hall's "That's How I Got To Memphis," Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Going No Where," Michael Martin Murphy's "Carolina In The Pines," Bill Monroe's "Bluegrass Special," Carter Stanley's "Think Of What You've Done," and Mere Haggard's "Back To The Barroom." Other often-covered songs include "Walking the Dog," "Rock Salt and Nails," and "Mary Ann."
Terry Waldridge (lead vocalist and rhythm guitar) formed the group in 1994 and is the only remaining original band member. The influences of Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs and The Stanley Brothers are consistently evident in his work. I especially enjoyed "Walking The Dog," "That's How I Got To Memphis," "Carolina In The Pines" and "Rock Salt and Nails."
Michael Yount (bass player and baritone vocalist) played bass for Bluegrass 101 from 1998 to 2004. He returned in 2005 and his solid bass provides a firm foundation for each track.
Jim Armstrong has been the steady tenor vocalist and fiddler since 2004. His dedication to the first generation of bluegrass is apparent throughout the CD. I especially enjoyed his contributions in "You Ain't Going Nowhere" and "Coal Mining Man."
Travis Reynolds (banjo) started with the band in 2005 but after these recordings were completed, he left 101 to form a band of his own. Reynolds' five-string work is clean and strong. His contributions are substantial and vital for the band's sound. Particularly noteworthy are "Welcome to Kentucky" and "Bluegrass Special."
Ben Read (mandolin) joined in 2006. His chops are steady and clean. He shines brightest on "Carolina in the Pines" and "Bluegrass Special."
The band's harmony gets stronger with each release and it is especially apparent in "Carolina in The Pines," "Mary Ann" and "Stepping Stone."
Bluegrass 101 hosts an annual summer festival with all profits going to the WHAS Crusade for Children. Over the past four years they have contributed $4,500. In addition, 101 was recently featured on public television's musical series, "Jubilee."
For more information go to www.bluegrass101.com