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Music Review - `Burnt the Sawmill Down ` by The Caleb Daugherty Band (bm) (4)

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

 9 June 2019



Former Staind lead singer Aaron Lewis stunned listeners earlier this year with “Burnt the Sawmill Down,” a previously unrecorded Keith Whitley co-write, on the exact same day that Caleb released it! May 17. The Caleb Daugherty Band cut a less ballyhooed yet equally compelling version, as well, playing down the Lefty Frizzell vibes of Watson’s honky-tonk rendition while revisiting Whitley’s bluegrass roots. Both are must-hear cuts that really capture the range of artists—from country-rock rebels to string-plucking purists—influenced by one of modern country music’s most tragic figures.

Beyond its title track and its backstory, Burnt the Sawmill Down introduces traditionalists and old souls to a band that would’ve fit right in back in the ‘70s when Whitley played bluegrass festivals with Ralph Stanley and J.D. Crowe.

The opening tune “Wildwood Flower Blues” keeps a composition by the late Harley Allen, the son of Red Allen and writer of John Michael Montgomery’s all-time tearjerker “The Little Girl,” close to its bluegrass roots. Numerous other covers follow, from a mountain gospel take on the traditional song “Long, Long Journey” to string-heavy revisions of Waylon Jennings’ “This Time,” Johnny Rodriguez’s “Riding My Thumb to Mexico” and Moe Bandy’s “Bandy the Rodeo Clown.” Each harmony-filled tribute to the band’s influences pushes the work of great lyricists to the forefront while showcasing the talents of Daugherty (guitar, lead vocals), Kyle Clerkin (banjo), Zion Napier (mandolin), Harold Nixon (bass), Ronnie Stewart (fiddle) and Josh Swift (dobro).

Fresher material includes a worthy addition to the modern bluegrass songbook titled “She’s the Ramblin’ Kind” and “Going Through the Motions,” Daugherty’s moody duet with one of roots music’s greatest ambassadors, Rhonda Vincent.

Like Whitley before them, The Caleb Daugherty Band refuse to stay in a bluegrass bubble, delving beyond old standards and dodging pop cover gimmickry while adding their own spin to some of the best country music of the past 40 years—from Waylon to Whitley.



Bobby Moore




Bobby Moore





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