Many acoustic bluegrass music fans are leary of the words "contemporary" and "modern", preferring to listen only to songs that stick to the traditional style invented by Bill Monroe in the 1940s. These fans don't want to hear new songs, electric instruments or even drums in their bluegrass. But even the most traditional of fans seem to find something to rave about when Blue Highway releases a new CD. VOA's Katherine Cole reports on the band's eighth release, "From The Window Of A Train."
They say it's impossible to please everyone. For the past 14 years, however, Blue Highway has been releasing CDs that contain enough of the elements of classic bluegrass to keep traditionalists happy, while also injecting enough of their own style, making their sound fresh and palatable to those who prefer a more modern sound.
Blue Highway bassist Wayne Taylor may have gotten it right when he said, "You can't go wrong with a train song in bluegrass." From The Window Of A Train is the title track to the band's latest CD; their second made up of all original songs.
Blue Highway has been a band for 14 years now. The members are so much in demand to play sessions in Nashville and as sidemen for singing stars that you might just get away with calling them a "bluegrass supergroup." Unusually, each of the five men in the group writes songs, and the band has three lead singers: Guitarist Tim Stafford, who won a Grammy as a member of Alison Krauss and Union Station, multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lane, and bassist Wayne Taylor, who wrote a tale of a veteran down on his luck, called "Homeless Man."
Blue Highway isn't afraid to tackle tough issues in their songs. The songs on From The Window Of A Train include that sympathetic look at the life of a homeless veteran who feels alienated from the country he defended. In Tim Stafford's "Two Soldiers," two officers on the Army's funeral detail describe their days of telling people that their loved ones won't be coming home.
The group's third singer, mandolin and fiddle player Shawn Lane, wrote a third of the songs on From The Window Of A Train, including "Where Did The Morning Go." The song, about the passage of time, showcases the exceptional vocal harmony in Blue Highway.
The singing on Blue Highway's From The Window Of A Train is every bit as exceptional as longtime fans have come to expect from the group, that also includes multi-instrumentalist Jason Burleson, and Grammy-winning dobro player Rob Ickes Newcomers will also find plenty to like on this CD, including the stellar musicianship that you'd expect from one of the most popular bands in bluegrass.
From The Window Of A Train also includes an instrumental track, "The North Cove", that lets each member of Blue Highway showcase their talent.