Bluegrass is a genre that is firmly rooted in the past. However, it continues to be passed from one generation to the next. Wood Belly is among the bands that is helping to carry on the traditions started so many decades ago despite that its first album was released in 2018. On the new album Man on the Radio, Wood Belly shows that a modern band can carry on the traditions as well as any bluegrass artist from the genre’s storied history.
When you listen to bluegrass, a few things become apparent. Above everything, you can’t help but notice the talent of the musicians. You don’t have to listen to a lot of this album to know that Chris Weist (mandolin), Craig Patterson (guitar), Chris Zink (Dobro), Aaron McCloskey (banjo), and Taylor Shuck (bass) can pick it as well as anyone. Probably the best example is in the instrumental “Blue Merle”. You can’t say any one instrument stands out from the others because they are all exceptional in this song. You kind of wish that you could see this band perform this song on a rickety front porch. Do yourself a favor and turn up the volume when you listen to this one.
“Can’t Get Behind” is an uptempo song propelled by Aaron McCloskey on the banjo and the thumping bass line by Taylor Shuck. Jeremy Garrett of The Infamous Stringdusters provides a mean fiddle part in this song whose energy and sound brings Yonder Mountain String Band to mind.
Something is familiar about “Gone Are the Days” and “Caroline” even if you can’t place it at first. The more you concentrate, the more you hear some similarity to Warren Zevon in the sound of Weist’s vocals. The other familiar thing about these songs is the solos. “Gone Are the Days” features solos both by Weist and Zink that will have your toes tapping. The same can be said for the banjo solo in “Caroline”, which is propelled by Shuck’s bass line.
The great thing about this album is that you can pick any song on it and know that you’ll hear a good one. Every song is filled with great picking that makes you wish you could do what these guys do. Wood Belly shows that it can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best bluegrass musicians out there. Man on the Radio will be available everywhere on January 31. Order your copy here and be ready for some foot-stompin’ bluegrass goodness.