Toronto-based bluegrass quartet The Slocan Ramblers’ new release Queen City Jubilee (Slo Music) is a welcome addition to the bluegrass catalogue. Lead vocals by Frank Evans provide the traditional sounding, syncopated counterpart to his banjo playing; and with Adrian Gross on mandolin, Alastair Whitehead on bass and Darryl Poulson’s steady rhythm guitar to anchor the frenzy, the resulting album is an instant classic.
The album features traditional songs: “Hillbilly Blues” (a.k.a. “Hesitation Blues”), “Long Chain Charlie,” and an ultra whirlwind “Sun’s Gonna Shine in My Back Door Someday.” Evans nails the vocal tracks, sounding like a muted gritty early traditional long lost cousin, or perhaps like some long lost recordings, of Flatt & Scruggs or Bill Monroe. In “Mississippi Heavy Water Blues,” the opening track, they’re cryin’ because they miss their mama, in a crisp clean rendition of this classic. “Long Chain Charlie and Moundsville,” tells a woeful tale of prison and death row lamentations, in classic bluegrass juxtaposition of catchy music and sad stories, and the Slocan Ramblers strike the perfect balance.
And there are originals too, like “Hill to Climb,” and “Just to Know,” which are clear bluegrass numbers, and then “First Train in the Morning” offers a more country song structure. These originals showcase the band’s knack for extending the beloved tradition. Because, you know, we simply haven’t had nearly enough bluegrass, andlikely never will. And at 14 tracks this one offers its new fair share for anyone’s collection. Give it a listen and get your copy, here. http://slocanramblers.com/