Album Review of
The Country Gentlemen "Tribute"

Written by Joe Ross
October 7, 2014 - 12:00am EDT
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Bill Yates' "Country Gentlemen Tribute" (on the Mastershield label) reinforces the great impact that the seminal material of The Country Gentlemen has had on many subsequent bluegrass units. Perhaps it's because the songs are nostalgically soothing and fit the bluegrass repertoire like a pair of old shoes. Bill Yates was directly involved with the late Charlie Waller for 18 plus years, and his entire album is a tribute to capture and recreate the former band's sound.

Bill Yates spent many years playing bass for The Country Gentlemen, but on this tribute album he only sings (lead and harmony). The bass playing is left to Dave MacGlashan. To recreate the historic sound, the SPBGMA Preservation Hall of Greats member assembled some other excellent musicians too Mike Phipps (lead and harmony vocals), Darren Beachley (guitar, lead and harmony vocals), Dave Propst (mandolin, lead and harmony vocals), Kevin Mallow (fiddle), Scott Walker (banjo), and Mark Clifton (resophonic guitar). These guys are well - known on the eastern seaboard as members of such fine groups as Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Shenandoah Blue Band, and Jay Armsworthy & Eastern Tradition.

With four lead and harmony vocalists on the album, it certainly would have been nice if liner notes had indicated who is singing what. However, it is apparently Mike Phipps who provides the stellar vocalizing reminiscent of Charlie Waller's. Mastershield Records confirmed that it is Mike Phipps singing most of the lead on the project. Yates and Friends succeed in depicting both sound and psyche of the pioneering Country Gentlemen. While some may argue that it's the original releases that were most pivotal to the genre, it's also beneficial to revisit that same material with a new updated cast of musicians using contemporary recording technology to recreate a sound from decades before. Another volume is hopefully in the works for future release.

Songs on the 35-minute CD include: Redwood Hill, The Secret of the Waterfall, Remembrance of You, East Virginia Blues, Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp, I'll Break Out Again Tonight, Little Bessie, The Young Fisherwoman, Walking Down The Line, Heaven, Two Little Boys, Blue Ridge Mountains Turning Green.