As many of you know, my wife and I have been wintering in Florida for the past five years. Last week I was asked to play banjo at a festival in N. Miami with friends I jam with every week on the porch of the Jupiter Lighthouse Museum. Only when I looked at the schedule did I realize that Special Consensus would be headlining the show. I've known Greg Cahill and Special C for quite a few years, from numerous performances for the HVBA in Poughkeepsie, and the years when Greg was President of the IBMA. The last time I'd seen the band was when Dan Eubanks had just joined the group, so I was really looking forward this performance.
What I witnessed was a band that had fused together, as solid as a rock with the energy of a Kansas tornado. Along with Greg Cahill on banjo, and Dan Eubanks on bass was Rick Faris on guitar, having moved over from mandolin, and Nick Dumas on mandolin. Nick is an outstanding addition to the band, with harmony vocals that blend perfectly with Rick and Dan's. I was so impressed that I asked Lynn Lipton if anyone had yet reviewed their latest CD for the HVBA, and subsequently offered to write one.
Long I Ride is the 4th and latest CD that Special Consensus has recorded with Compass Records, and it's truly a work of art. Every song is sculpted and finely crafted. Alison Brown has once again arranged and produced a great collection of songs that both stretch and perfectly fit within the bluegrass genre.
There are a couple of tunes you might have heard before, "Highway 40 Blues" and the Flatt, Scruggs & Graves instrumental "Fireball." Three of the vocal numbers were either written by current or former members of Special Consensus. Bob Amos has a great song in this collection, as do Craig Market and Tim Stafford, and Joe Newberry. If that's not enough, there are special guests sprinkled throughout; Della Mae on "Highway 40 Blues," Trey Hensley, Alison Brown and Rob Ickes on "Fireball," Summer McMahan of Mountain Faith on "First One To Know," and Matt Combs and Buddy Spicher twin fiddling on "Baby I'm Blue."
Greg Cahill has had a lot of wonderful musicians in Special C over the years, but the group I saw on stage last week is really something "Special." I'm urging everyone I know to come out and see them when they appear nearby, to watch their videos and buy this CD. Greg, you have truly chosen wisely.
Ed. Note: Special C will be appearing in Poughkeepsie, NY on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
Jerry Oland: Former HVBA Board Member, banjo player with Buddy Merriam & Back Roads, Blue Plate Special, Bear Acker & Billings Gap, Wildcat Creek, Wheelhoss and the Arm Brothers, currently freelance banjoist with the Hayrollers, the Jupiter Lighthouse Porch Band, novice fiddler, and part-time real estate magnate.
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