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Music Review - `Burnt the Sawmill Down ` by Caleb Daugherty Band (jh)

Caleb Daugherty Band  - Burnt the Sawmill Down   (click on image to watch video)

27 May 2019 


Indiana-based Caleb Daugherty is not yet thirty and already accomplished what many veteran musicians dream about. Having released one country album, this is his first bluegrass offering with his Indiana bandmates, following an invitation in 2016 to join the Queen of Bluegrass, Rhonda Vincent, on the stage of the Grand Ol’ Opry. Just this past May Daugherty performed at the Country Music of Hall of Fame in Nashville, to honor the 30th Anniversary of Keith Whitley’s passing. Daugherty was part of a lineup that included Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Tracy Lawrence, and many others. Two of those opportunities are, in a way. reprised here. The title track is a newly discovered, never released until now, Keith Whitley penned tune, passed on to Daugherty from Whitley’s son.  Secondly, Vincent, obviously already a big fan of Daugherty’s, sings in duet with him on the standout track “Going Through the Motions.”

There’s more too. IBMA dobro player of the year, Josh Swift, joins on the title track and the Vincent duet. He participated with the standard array of bluegrass instruments played by Daugherty’s Hoosier bandmates – Ronnie Stewart (fiddle), Harold Nixon (bass), Zion Napier (mandolin, harmonies) and Kyle Clerkin (banjo). Daugherty takes the lead and harmony vocals and picks his acoustic guitar. They get down to business immediately in this carefully chosen batch of ten tunes.  There’s no adornment and little flash, save for the adept picking. They just take the classic bluegrass approach throughout, leaving an honest, authentic impression.

Many of the tunes are about the struggles and lifestyle of either about the troubadour life (“Going Through the Motions’) or traveling stories from notable writers – “Riding My Thumb to Mexico” (Johnny Rodriguez).  “Long, Long, Journey,” a classic tune with writer unknown, is the requisite bluegrass gospel tune about mortality. They also nod to Waylon Jennings in “This Time” and to Lefty Frizzell in his well-known “Randy the Rodeo Clown.” Bandmate Napier penned “She’s the Ramblin’ Kind,” about a freight train hopping woman, proving they’ve already captured the essence of a solid tune. It sits comfortably among those from the classic writers. That tune as well as “This Time” and “Ain’t Coming Back” indicate a fascination with failed relationships and runaway women. 

Daugherty sounds more like a veteran than a youngster with his deep clear tenor voice, ideal for country and these bluegrass tunes. It’s as professional a debut as any band could have. They’ve checked all the boxes, stayed true to tradition, come across authentically, and delivered excellent results, in support of the song. Even the songs have the usual country ingredients of failed love, drinking, trains, and trucks.  Having already mastered the idiom, let’s hope their next step is to offer more originals. 



Jim Hynes



Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here




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