SPECIAL CONSENUS, “Scratch Gravel Road,” Compass Records. 12 tracks
It’s been 39 years and well over 40 musicians since Greg Cahill, a Chicago social worker, founded the Cook County Doo Dah Boys — the band that became The Special Consensus in 1975.
The idea was to showcase his “urban traditionalist take on bluegrass which encompasses elements of Chicago blues, swing, newgrass and country music,” according to Compass Records, the band’s current home.
It took the band four years to get its first record deal and start touring.
But nearly 40 years after its start and dozens of personnel changes, Special Consensus is still going strong.
“Scratch Gravel Road,” the band’s latest album, goes on sale March 27.
It’s a good collection of bluegrass the way Special Consensus has always done it, with a little country, swing and blues flavors on the side.
“Monroe,” an uptempo tribute to Bill Monroe, “the father of bluegrass music,” features guest vocals from two former members of the band — Josh Williams and Chris Jones. The lyrics include a lot of Monroe’s song titles.
Harley Allen’s “A Good Problem to Have” is a take on the old proverb, “I wept because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
The band — Cahill, Rick Faris, David Thomas and Dustin Benson — turn the Golden Gate Quartet’s “On My Way To The Kingdom Land” into some great a capella bluegrass gospel.
Don Gibson’s 1961 classic, “Sea of Heartbreak” also gets a bluegrass makeover.
“My Memories Of You” is a good sing-along ballad.
On the bluesy side of bluegrass, there’s “Shoulda Took A Train” and “Trouble Let Me Be.”
Moonshine plays a role in the title cut, about a moonshiner’s son turning 21 and leaving town, and “Old New Straitsville Moonshine Run,” a blazing tune about eastern Ohio moonshine runners.
Can’t find it in stores? Try CompassRecords.com.