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"The Banjo Files" Review by Bluegrass Unlimited"

Posted by Jacob Underwood on Thursday, June 9, 2016


Plum River

Underwood is a 19-year-old banjo picker who plays with the band Bluegrass Express. He’s helped here by some big name friends on this ten-track effort. He wrote four of the cuts, and they show his approach to bluegrass banjo. He’s about the melody and drive, but does not bowl the listener over with excessive speed. Timing is the thing. He is joined by Mike Scott on “Bully Of The Town” for a tasteful banjo romp. He handles a medium tempo pop evergreen, “When You’re Smiling,” with taste and restraint. Steve Thomas’ fiddling throughout the project borders on the sublime.

Underwood plays the mandolin and guitar with great flair as well. He is his own man with both instruments and stays clear of the cliches that riddle so many players’ work these days. The list of guest players is long here and includes Ron Stewart and Tim Crouch, fiddle, Sierra Hull on mandolin, Matt Wallace and Greg Underwood on bass, Justin Moses on resonator guitar, and Emily Hall on guitar. If your tastes run to solidly played, straight-ahead bluegrass, you should find lots to like on this project. (

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