My first encounter with the Yankee Rebels was back in the early 1970's at a jamboree at O'Lunney's bar and restaurant on 2nd Avenue. The Arm Bros., from Poughkeepsie, had ventured into NYC and were slotted to follow the Yankee Rebels. As I recall, the Yankee Rebels were the number one working bluegrass band in the city at the time. Sometime in the late 1980's the Yankee Rebels stopped performing, and only started up again about six years ago.
The Yankee Rebels are back now with a fine new CD, Flight Of The Phoenix, including three original songs and two instrumentals by band member David Bressler. The three part harmony singing on the album is a highlight with “Behind These Prison Walls Of Love” and “Shackles And Chains" just two of my favorites. Many modern bluegrass bands could learn a lot from listening to the Yankee Rebels' neatly stacked vocals. The two instrumentals, “Flight Of The Phoenix” and “Methuseleh Mountain Breakdown” are quite imaginative and nicely executed.
Three members of the current band were there at the beginning; Les Bayer, banjo, David Bressler, mandolin, and Art Dekhayser, guitar. Mark Farrell of the James Reams Band on fiddle, and Alan Cohen on bass complete the current Rebels.
Their fine new recording, Flight Of The Phoenix, was recorded and produced by Bob Harris of Ampersand Records. (Bob also plays guitar on 2 cuts.) Bob Harris also recorded the latest Too Blue CD, Trouble WithThe Grey, as well as Buddy Merriam's most recent project, Back Roads Mandolin, and is undoubtedly one of the premier recording engineers in the country.