Special Consensus has reached a highpoint in its 35 year career with the release of SCRATCH GRAVEL ROAD. Bandleader/banjoist Greg Cahill’s current line-up: Rick Faris (mandolin and vocals), David Thomas (bass and vocals) and newest member Dustin ... more
“Thirty-five years in bluegrass—on the road, recording, teaching, volunteering—Greg Cahill is the Cal Ripken Jr. of bluegrass. This iron man is still going!” —Bluegrass Unlimited
“One of the longest-running and best-respected outfits in bluegrass history.”—Chicago Reader
An impressive 37 years into the band’s history, Special Consensus has a reputation as a band with a strong yet invisible hand in the national and international bluegrass scene, offering a springboard for the solo careers of many of the genre’s finest performers. Lead man and banjoist Greg Cahill has developed a formula for cultivating successful, road-worthy groups and his bandleader acumen has never been stronger. On Scratch Gravel Road, Special Consensus delivers what is arguably the finest album in its nearly 4-decade career, featuring a set of new material both driving and deep. The album is scheduled for release on March 27 (click here to view promotional video).
Bandleader Greg Cahill reflects: “Scratch Gravel Road is the 16th Special Consensus recording and it will be released in our 37th year. It really is a special project because of the great pickers and singers we have in the band right now. The camaraderie is strong and I think that makes a difference in the way we make music together.” Cahill’s sense for putting together bands is nearly legendary in bluegrass music. Special Consensus helped to launch the solo careers of IBMA award-winners Chris Jones and Josh Williams, both of whom made guest appearances on “Monroe,” a clever tribute to the late father of bluegrass written by Craig Market.
Special Consensus also has a talent for culling the best new original songs in bluegrass for their repertoire and the new album doesn’t disappoint in this regard. One outstanding example is the song “A Good Problem To Have.” Written by the late Harley Allen, this is the first time the song has been recorded and it was a reverential moment for the band in the studio. Bassist Dave Thomas, who sang lead on the track, comments, “Harley was one of my heroes as a singer and a writer and it was a great honor to be able to cover that song.”
The band’s newest member, guitarist and vocalist Dustin Benson, composed “Mollie & Julie’s Reel,” a track to which esteemed fiddler Stuart Duncan contributes his talent. “It’s a dream come true to be able to pick and sing for a living,” says Benson of his recruitment to the band. Mandolinst/vocalist Rick Faris is featured on the title track, singing lead on the song written by bluegrass songwriter Becky Buller. In Special Consensus fashion, the album features an acappella gospel track, this time choosing “On My Way to the Kingdom Land” from the renowned Golden Gate Quartet repertoire of the 1930s, and a surprise bluegrass arrangement of the timeless country classic “Sea of Heartbreak.” The album was recorded at Compass Sound Studios in Nashville and produced by banjoist and Compass co-founder Alison Brown, who also lent her banjo prowess to Greg’s twin banjo instrumental “Jacklene.”
Scratch Gravel Road illustrates that success can be found in both what you know and who you know and can almost be guaranteed if you know Greg Cahill and his stellar team of singers, pickers and writers. Special Consensus will be on tour promoting the new album starting in April and continuing throughout the year, with hometown album launch parties at the Station Inn in Nashville (4/27) and The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago (4/28).