The Waybacks

Burger After Church

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Judging by the instrumentation, you'd probably say the Waybacks were a bluegrass group; how else could you describe a band with two mandolin players? And so they are, but these guys have a lot of records besides Bill Monroe's in their collections, if their second album, Burger After Church, is any indication. There are tunes that come across as traditional bluegrass instrumentals, notably the opener, "Turkish Stalemate" (which might be subtitled "Dueling Mandos"), and "Gulshion Island," but even these have other elements. The rest are even more eclectic: "Brundlefly" boasts jazzy solos, "Bright Place," with its prominent fiddle playing, is a country raver, Floyd Cramer's "Last Date" is turned into a lengthy ballad statement sans piano, "Prairie Doggin'" and "The Return" both have Celtic influences, Blind Blake's "Police Dog Blues" is country blues with a few twists, "Saltflat Rhapsody" has some wonderful fingerpicking, and "Temporary Cheese" contains a passage that might have come from one of the Grateful Dead's "space" excursions. So, what do you call all that? Progressive bluegrass? Newgrass? The Waybacks delight in mixing things up, and they are the kind of musician's musicians who devote a portion of their short CD booklet to a list of the instruments they use ("Michael Coulon's '30s-era Kalamazoo L-30 guitar was played by James on track 7"). The resulting music stays fresh as the band takes it to one style after another, playing each one well.

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