Mickey Galyean & Cullen’s Bridge- Songs From the Blue Ridge review


Gaylean

Mickey Galyean & Cullen’s Bridge
Songs From the Blue Ridge
Rebel Records

Unheralded bluegrass bands performing music to the highest quality abound.

Hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountain area of Virginia and North Carolina, Mickey Galyean & Cullen’s Bridge have been performing and developing without the benefit of overbearing promotional folks and management. They are doing it honestly: woodshedding, performing, and recording. Their previous release, My Daddy’s Grass, was an impressive collection of new songs (“I Found My Daddy’s Grass,” “Brother Paul,” and “I’d Have A Dime”) via Rick Pardue (and his collaborators) and bandleader Galyean (“Home With The Blues”) further strengthened with powerful interpretations of familiar chestnuts (“It’s A Cold, Cold World,” “Dark As A Dungeon,” and “We’ll Be Sweethearts in Heaven.”)

Songs From the Blue Ridge is every bit its equal.

Recorded ‘the old fashioned way’ by the band members—Galyean (guitar, lead vocals), Pardue (banjo, tenor vocals), Brad Hiatt (acoustic bass, baritone vocals), and Billy Hawks (fiddle)—in a single studio without guest appearances, Songs From the Blue Ridge is a collection of songs that will provide endless entertainment.

While few of us ever need to hear “Dixieland For Me” again, the remaining eleven selections are without fault—and “Dixieland For Me” suffers only because it is overly familiar. The album’s centerpiece is a driving rendition of the Johnson Mountain Boys’ “Too Late to Say Goodbye,” a Dudley Connell song that we haven’t heard recorded in much too long. Another classic seldom encountered is John Duffey’s hopeful (and somewhat self-centered, demanding, and presuming) “Wear a Red Rose,” while “The Drunkard’s Dream” is oft-heard, but seldom with such musically dark overtones. Nice.

The new material is as inspiring. Pardue again comes through for his cohorts with both “You Can Go to Heaven” and a song many of us can relate to, “No Candy in My Bluegrass.” Over a strong bass rhythm and a mess of impressive banjo rolls, we hear words like an elixir:

He was standing in the back row shaking his head,
Considering the fact all his heroes were dead.
He was hearing something that he didn’t rightly know—
Was it souped-up country or bad rock and roll.
Don’t put no candy in my bluegrass,
I don’t want my whiskey watered down.
Don’t give me no electrified baloney—
I just want to hear that mountain sound!

Preachin’ to the converted, and no complaints about it.

Galyean’s songwriting contribution is similarly well-conceived. “Now I’m Losing You” is a ‘woe, you’re leaving me’ number with some flair, not the least of which is Hawks’ fiddle work. His father Cullen’s “The Blue Ridge Mountains” ties the project together amid “tall lonesome old pines.” Brad Hiatt’s “She’s Gone” is memorable, a somewhat empowering tale of self-determination, and Hawks’ fiddle showcase “Outback” is more than filler—Hiatt’s rhythm sets the pace, but it is the interplay of Hawks and Pardue that sets the tune apart.

Filled-out by terrific readings of the thematically linked “The Convict and the Rose” and “These Old Prison Bars,” Mickey Galyean & Cullen’s Bridge have created an intriguing, lasting bluegrass recording. Rebel Records has done it again!

As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

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