Chesapeake

Pier Pressure

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If you want the key to Chesapeake, the outfit formed by three ex-Seldom Sceners and Tony Rice's mandolinist, you'll find it in T. Michael Coleman's "Rockin' Hillbilly," the tale of a man who just loves bluegrass, country, and R&B. And that neatly sums up this band; they don't put up any barriers between the styles (and why should they, since they complement each other?). So they're equally comfortable with the bluegrass/gospel standard "Working on a Building," their tribute to the late, great Bill Monroe, the country gospel of "White Pilgrim," and the fabulous country of "Bed of Roses," where guest Linda Ronstadt adds sublime harmonies behind the lead voice of Mondi Klein. With their pedigrees, it goes without saying that these are real pickers, but they give their fingers a workout on "Sleepwaking(ing) at the Drive-In," where Jimmy Gaudreau shines on mandolin. Truthfully, it's an album of highlights, and Coleman proves to be a far-above average songwriter on all his contributions. The covers are tasteful (an excellent version of Van Morrison's "Full Force Gale," for example), and there's a general sense of about pleasure about the disc. Call it newgrass, country, whatever you like, but make sure you call it superior.

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