Bluegrass has always been a genre where skilled musicians are able to kick off their shoes and let loose, and Rumpke Mountain Boys seem to have entered the game (in appropriate fashion) with their shoes already off! In a time where bluegrass is no longer relegated to traditional Appalachian acts, Rumpke Mountain Boys find themselves in a market that is accepting of new vibrations, and these guys are adding an inspired voice.
Having added J.D. Westmoreland to their bass slot, Rumpke Mountain Boys are a unique unit that can jump from slow creek trickles to gully washing torrents. “Disconnected” is one of those songs that comes with a flurry of fingers that would cramp less-practiced pickers. It is followed directly by a bass-packed and more sedate “Cold Hearted Whine” and its laments over an imperfect relationship; the fingers may not skip so quickly on this and similar tracks, but that’s really where you get to hear the melodies evolve and soak up the glorious suds.
In a market that has its share of modern bluegrass bands, why does this band deserve attention? So many modern bluegrass bands are simply carrying on a tradition, while Rumpke Mountain Boys have a sound that is their own, while still nodding to their roots. The singing is solid, the musicianship could be placed against any other in the scene today, and the song writing is capable of hilarious highs and cathartic lows.
Trashgrass is an album that just might wake up those listeners who have begun to approach bluegrass with a yawn. Sure, we all love to get outside and stomp some soil as a team of strings picks along, but every now and then, everything needs a dose of new. Rumpke Mountain Boys are bringing this fresh seasoning, and Trashgrass tastes mighty fine.
- Jeremy Sanchez