• JOURNAL STAR "Ground Zero" Review: 

    SANDY CREEK makes fine 'Bluegrass' album     

    By L. KENT WOLGAMOTT / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com | Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 11:25 pm


    I've been listening to Sandy Creek play bluegrass for about 35 years, and the band just keeps getting better and better.

    That's what I got immediately from "Bluegrass / Batch # 00421," Sandy Creek's new CD that it will release at a LAFTA-sponsored party at 7 p.m. Saturday at Wooly's Big Back Yard, 6115 Huntington Ave.

    Now a six-piece outfit, Sandy Creek leans heavily on the classics on "Bluegrass / Batch # 00421," with five songs from the Bill Monroe catalog, one by Bobby Osborne, a Ralph Stanley number and a killer Carter Stanley cut, the mournful countryish "I'll Just Go Away."

    To say Sandy Creek handles the material well is an understatement. These guys can really play: Jason Shaw won the National Flatpicking Guitar Championship for the third time last year, and Mike Paul can pick that banjo as he demonstrates on the moonshine raveup "Dooley."

    So the three instrumentals on the record are a good thing. Monroe penned two, including the lead-instrument swapping, uptempo "Gold Rush," and there's Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farewell," a haunting fiddle tune that was on the soundtrack of Ken Burns' "The Civil War."

    With five of the six singing, Sandy Creek fills the rest of the record with the high lonesome harmonies that are an absolute bluegrass requirement, and they've been in the bluegrass game long enough to really get it right.

    I've listened to the 40-minute "Bluegrass / Batch # 00421" a handful of times in the past week, and it's as consistent and high quality as any bluegrass album I've heard in years. My favorite song on the disc keeps changing, but for now it's the closing one-two punch of "Vincent Black Lightning," a tune about the legendary motorcycle, and Monroe's iconic "Uncle Pen," a classic perfectly done by a great band.

    Buy "Bluegrass / Batch # 00421" at the band's website, www.sandycreekbluegrass.com, or it will be available on iTunes on Saturday.


    Reach L. Kent Wolgamott at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/LJSWolgamott.

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