If the name Old School Freight Train isn't immediately familiar, it probably has something to do with the fact that most of the band's gigs have been confined to the Old Dominion (Virginia). Like the David Grisman Quintet and the Tony Rice Unit, these youngsters approach progressive bluegrass while keeping one foot planted firmly in tradition. Mandolinist Pete Frostic, guitarist Jesse Harper, banjoist Ben Krakauer, bassist Darrell Muller, and fiddler Ann Marie Simpson energetically work their way through 11 pieces on Old School Freight Train. Much of the band's approach originates from the progressive bluegrass of the 1970s. That means that vocal pieces like "Horizon Line" and "Long Journey Back" feature smooth harmony and avoid the high, lonesome sound associated with older bluegrass. Nonetheless, the band can still dig deep into traditional bluegrass on a piece like "Rock Valley Prison." The instrumentals remind one of mid-'70s new acoustic music. The structure of pieces like "Water Veil" and "Beaver Creek Shakedown" are loose enough for innovative solo work, but never so loose as to verge into new age territory. Both "Beginner's Mind" and "Tango Chutney" hark back to swing and Latin jazz, and are two of the strongest cuts on the album. Old School Freight Train is a solid first effort and should be appreciated by progressive bluegrass aficionados.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.