Hold With Hope
Gadfly Records, Inc.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
From the state of Vermont comes Breakaway, a bluegrass band whose precision and skill makes it hard to believe there are only four members. Since 1988, folks in the northeast have been able to hear and enjoy Breakaway's mix of the traditions of bluegrass with original tunes and adaptations from folk, country and pop music. An accomplished band, they won the 1994 Winterhawk Band Contest and have been turning heads ever since. |
Breakaway is a true ensemble group where every player contributes to the sound of the music. Scott Hopkins' banjo blends perfectly with the rest of the band, offering tasty backup and impressive solo breaks. Guitarist Paul Miller shares lead vocal duties with bass player Peter Riley. Gene White, Jr. provides stellar work on both fiddle and mandolin. Joining them on selected numbers are mandolinist Taylor Armerding and resophonic guitar Junior Barber, offering excellent support work.
Breakaway does more than simply play the notes of the music cleanly and precisely. They make it truly musical by playing with true feeling, each player extending his personality in his playing. This is most evident on their instrumental adaptation of the Youngbloods' classic, Darkness, Darkness. White's lonesome, soulful fiddle is contrasted by the drive of Hopkins' banjo, which not only changes the flavor of the song when it steps forward, but the tempo as well. As the fiddle returns, so does the original feeling and tempo of the song. These changes are accomplished with a seemingly effortless precision by the band, and are more impressive each time it is heard.
Whether opening with a grassed-up version of Woody Guthrie's Pastures of Plenty, or reprising George Jones' classic Old, Old House, or an original piece such as Hopkins' instrumental Chenango County Blues, one cannot help but be impressed with the skill of this band. These folks can play. They don't play flashy-they play together.
They are a band, in every sense of the word. And one worth hearing, again and again.