Canucky Bluegrass Boys
The Canucky Bluegrass Boys are a high-energy band from western Ontario strongly influenced by contemporary southern bluegrass. Formerly known as Grassbackwardz, the five-person Anglophone-First Nations ensemble has evolved from a jam session band into a recording unit that successfully projects the joy they find in playing bluegrass together. Fiddler Don Reed (who’s worked with Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam) and R.J. Nelson (formerly of Lily Creek) on banjo have lifted the three original members to a new level of confidence and competence.
Standin’ Up appropriately offers a wide range of songs from “Sittin’ On Top Of The World,” first recorded by AfricanAmerican string band the Mississippi Sheiks, all the way to Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel,” arguably the “Rocky Top” of Americana music. The group also covers the Seldom Scene version of “I Know You Rider” as if it were their own, while proving knowledgeable enough to unearth Lynwood Lunsford’s “Molly Rose” and “Leavin,” an early hit for James King. Upright bass player Matt Naveau provides the original composition and title track “Standin’ Up.”
Standin’ Up offers ample evidence as to why the Canucky Bluegrass Boys captured both Most Promising Group and Best Vocal Group at the 2009 Central Canadian Bluegrass Music Awards. While other bands may provide greater depth and subtly, few ensembles strike a better balance between professional skills and communicating the simple joy of playing music together than this group. (Lee Roy, 297 Mountain St. Apt. 3, Sudbury, ON P3B 2T8, Canada, www.canuckybluegrass.com.) AM