Circuit Riders

Let the Ride Begin

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On Let the Ride Begin's opening track, titled "Lonesome Wind," the Circuit Riders place themselves firmly inside the contemporary bluegrass scene, drawing from traditional roots but presenting a smoother and more country-flavored version of Flatt & Scruggs' music. This track, and others like "Mama, What Does Heaven Look Like There," sound tailor-made for bluegrass Top 40. With guitar/mandolin/banjo/Dobro arrangements, smooth harmonies, and a good mix of country lyrics, the Circuit Riders come across as an experienced band, comfortable working as a unit. Most of the songs hit upon familiar country-bluegrass themes -- untrue women, traveling on the road, and belief in a higher power. One track that may strike some listeners as odd in this context is Neil Young's "Powderfinger." Those unfamiliar with the song will probably fret little over the upbeat, spunky version here, though others may find the bluegrass makeover less than faithful to Young's edgier take. The band also includes the instrumental "Pickett's Charge," commemorating a disastrous Civil War battle, and adding yet another piece to bluegrass' canon focusing on that distant conflict. Let the Ride Begin is a solid album, but the challenge for the Circuit Riders, like so many other contemporary bluegrass bands, is how to separate themselves from the plethora of bands currently crowding festival stages.

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