CD Review: MARK LAVENGOOD – We’ve Come Along


We’ve Come Along

We’ve Come Along – Ol’ Slew Foot – Interlude
for L.A. – Three Day Blow – Mule Kick – Vulpes Vulbes Intro – Vulpes
Vulpes – Hungry Heart – Bound To Ride – Interlude for L.A. (reprise)-


Just when I think the ‘normal’ progression’ of a musical
genre has completely disappeared in America, I find someone whose heart
‘knows’ what progression should be.  It’s simply ‘keeping’ the basis for
the music as it was established, the originality, the creativity, the
normalcy, the beauty. What happens in the artistic world of music today,
nearly any genre, is to not ‘progress’ it, but to ‘change’ it.  That
isn’t, or at least in the past, wasn’t the ‘norm.’  Country music is a
good example of how the ‘story telling’ reason for its existence turned
into how much money can we make. That’s not really a reason for artistic
expression.  It’s happening in bluegrass music today.  Bill Monroe’s
most stern retort to those who asked why he even created bluegrass
music, was always ‘I want to save the ancient tones.’  That led to a
form of acoustic music that stayed in step with Monroe.  For the longest
time we heard bluegrass music in its many different individual styles,
always keeping with the Monroe ‘doctrine.’  Today however, there are
many groups that have led the ‘genre’ into a kind of ‘jazz like’ sound
that does not reflect the original purpose of the music at all. Actually
it abandons the premise that was laid down by the original creator. 
This is true in just about everything ‘American’ today, the ‘purpose’
has been eliminated for one reason, and one reason only, make money or
quit.  That isn’t the means or the demeanor of any creative artist.  And
just as I bewail the loss of the creative force inside a genre of music
like bluegrass, along comes a guy like Mark Lavengood who is not only
creative, he maintains and holds the standard bearer high, high enough
for Bill Monroe to approve the effort.  “Ol Slew Foot” is a good example
of maintaining the prestige and ‘style’ of the genre.  It couldn’t be
better, it’s full of energy and astonishing picking. Mark Lavengood
plays the Dobro, an interesting musical instrument in itself, perhaps
best known as the forerunner of the steel guitar which became a
‘standard’ in early classic country music.  Lavengood uses the
instrument to ‘express’ as well as ‘describe’ the music he is playing. I
not only love the ‘traditional’ sound he creates, but his ‘originals’
are very expressive.  Like all ‘new’ works, one has to sit down and
‘listen’ if they want to understand.  This is a large band, Kyle Rhodes
on vocals, guitar & mandolin; Jason Dennie on vocals mandolin &
guitar; Spencer Cain on upright acoustic bass; and Keith Billik on
banjo.  This interesting and entertaining CD was recorded in Michigan of
all places, somewhat removed from the early Kentucky ‘source’ of the
music, but close enough to catch the attention of any traditional
bluegrass music lover.  Mark’s original lyric words are truly original,
“Time’s fleeting now what else shall we do but find the source that
fuels our soul, learn to live anew.”  Pretty neat huh?  Some of us have
read the Book, and we know how it ends.  I believe Mark has done that,
and he has a lot to share from that experience.  “Lets let love guide us
let it be as we roll on down the road.”  Yep, he knows!  He also knows
how to project individuality.  “Mule Kick” is definitely a ‘long-time’
picking experience, but he replicates it just like he created it. 
Interesting all the way through.  It’s already a ‘new’ year for
submitting CD’s to the Rural Roots Music Commission for their “CD of the
Year” awards in early September, 2018.  Off it goes, with my hope that
the folks hear it like I do.

RECORD REVIEW BY BOB EVERHART, President National Traditional Music Association (since 1976) for Country Music News International

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