MIKE AIKEN, “Captains & Cowboys,” Northwind Records. 12 tracks.

There was a time, not that long ago, when bluegrass fans had no trouble telling a bluegrass album just by its cover.

Most of the band names ended with “boys.” And there was usually a picture of a banjo, a mandolin and a fiddle on the cover.

Those were dead give-aways.

But these days, band names are changing. Some bluegrass bands don’t even have banjos. And a lot of bluegrass is being marketed as Americana/roots music.

That’s how Mike Aiken’s “Captains & Cowboys” is marketed.

But it’s not bluegrass. Not with drums, electric guitars, pedal steel guitars, pianos, organs and accordions.

Still, a lot of the songs would easily fit into bluegrass with different instrumentation.

“Virginia,” a love song to the state, would definitely fit bluegrass repertoires. So would “Coal Train,” a song about the hills of West Virginia being shipped to China.

“Your Memory Wins,” a song about a memory that’s stronger than whiskey, could easily be a bluegrass song as could “Dance With The Wind,” a song about young love that lasts; “Night Rider’s Lament,” a song about the reason cowboys work for little pay; and the title cut about men who love wide open spaces and freedom.

And Aiken, a former ship’s captain and farrier who wrote or co-wrote nine of the 12 tracks on his sixth studio album, would fit into one of the branches of bluegrass.

But this album is more country than anything.

Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.MikeAikenMusic.com.

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