SPRING CREEK, “Way Up On A Mountain,” Rebel. 12 tracks.
Colorado-based Spring Creek is a relatively new band — it’s only 5 years old — that’s starting to garner national attention as part of the neo-traditional movement. Rebel Records refers to the sound as “daring, yet indebted to the forefathers of bluegrass.”
The label also says the band blends “the soul of the Rocky Mountains” with the sounds of the “Appalachian hills and piedmont of the bluegrass heartland.”
The four members of Spring Creek met while they were students at South Plains College in Texas.
Two years ago, they became the first band to win both the RockyGrass and Telluride band competitions in the same year.
“Way Up On A Mountain” features eight original songs and a couple of interesting covers.
There’s Bill Monroe’s “In Despair,” a blazing-hot traditional number. And then there’s Ricky Nelson’s “Lonesome Town” from 1958, a pretty ballad about a place where broken hearts stay.
All four members — Chris Elliott, Jessica Smith, Taylor Sims and Alex Johnstone — share lead vocal duties. And Michael Cleveland and Sally Van Meter add their fiddle and resophonic guitar to the mix.
Strong debut by a good band.
Can’t find it in stores? Try www.rebelrecords.com.
CHRIS PANDOLFI, “Looking Glass,” Sugar Hill. 11 tracks.
Chris Pandolfi’s resume includes being “the first ever banjo principal at the Berklee College of Music (in Boston), studying jazz performance and composition.”
Not your average bluegrass resume.
But his resume also includes being a co-founder of the Infamous Stringdusters, one of the hottest young bands in bluegrass.
Although he was inspired by Bela Fleck, who spends more time in jazz than bluegrass these days, Pandolfi has also studied the music of Earl Scruggs, the father of bluegrass banjo.
“Looking Glass” — which includes 11 instrumentals written by Pandolfi — leans heavily toward the progressive side of bluegrass and strays into jazz and other forms. But traditional fans will find a strong influence in “Machines,” “Rolling Blackout,” “Wichita Stomp” and “Close Encounters.”
Can’t find it in stores? Try www.sugarhillrecords.com.