Review for AOL's Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

The Chapel Hillbilly Way

Shady Grove Band

Reviewed by Jim Lewis.

Anyone looking for a way back into bluegrass music, as I was, should take a listen to "The Chapel Hillbilly Way" by the North Carolina-grown group, Shady Grove Band.

It took only a single hearing of the 14 pieces on this well-recorded CD for me to bridge the years between the spring of 1995 and the early 1960s, when this New Lost City Ramblers groupie first discovered bluegrass. And, with perhaps one lone exception, every one of the songs work for me.

Songs on the album include traditional bluegrass material such as "Golden Highway" and "Imprisoned by Her Memories," as well as such Carter family favorites as "Will You Miss Me" in an arrangement that I at least have not heard before.

A few that work particularly well for me include those three as well as the two instrumentals on the album, "About Wright" and "Johnny Ridge." Others that struck particular sparks include the familiar "I've Just Seen the Rock of Ages," the country flavored pair, "Wasted Tears" and "Cold Heart Waltz," and "Cruel-Hearted Wind," written by the group's mandolinist, Charles Petee, who also penned four others of this excellent collection.

As noted, there *was* one track--"You Can't Do Wrong and Get By"--which, for me at least, did not work. It is labeled as "traditional" in the album notes, but unless I'm sadly mistaken only the melody (John Henry) is traditional. The words--whoever penned them are overly moralistic and preachy and simply do not fit what my mind wants the tune to produce. Still, when have you ever found an album in which *everything* is perfect?

From the cover notes, I have to assume the Shady Grove Band usually consists of four musicians--Jerry Brown on guitar, Charles Petee, Adael Shinn, upright bass (she wrote three of the songs on here), and Jason Schorr, banjo. For this album, they are joined here and there by Don lewis on fiddle.

I couldn't have asked for a better album to bring me back to bluegrass--I make it an excellent buy.

From Flying Fish Records (#70639), 1304 West Schubert, Chicago, IL 60614 (1-800-FYI-FISH)
Copyright 1995 Three Rivers Folklife Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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