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Cook County Bluegrass

Blue Sky Town – 2001 (Planetary)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Cook County Bluegrass

With their fingers in several different sounds, from Old Time tunes to uptempo newgrass picking and 1970's country rock, Cook County Bluegrass of Richmond, Va. managed to come up with a debut that will please both new and old bluegrass fans.

The traditional side is well-represented, from the breakneck opening version of "How Mountain Girls Can Love" to "Moonshiner" and the overdone "Whiskey Before Breakfast," and the band does the tunes with just enough reverence and not too much pizzazz to upset any old timers. The real treat here is the original material. It is rare for a bluegrass debut to have so many good new songs on it, and lead singers Tony Cook and Will Perkinson split songwriting duties almost evenly. Cook's superb country-grass tune, "Silver Creek Line," and his straight honky-tonk tune, "Teardrops Are Falling," are highlights, as is Perkinson's jaunty, "Part Of Me."

In their weaker moments, Cook County sounds a little too much like a mellow southern rock band with a banjo, but there are many stronger moments to compensate for the occasional missteps.