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Cork 'N Bottle String Band

Volume II – 2000 (CBSB)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Cork 'N Bottle String Band

Although the term "string band" is often associated with old time music, in this case it refers to Cork 'n Bottle String Band, a Madison, Wisconsin bluegrass ensemble (eight of them in all) that has, like the Seldom Scene at the Birchmere in the Washington area, become a weeknight institution at Ken's Bar & Grill in the Madison area.

With no disrespect intended toward the Bottle 'n Cork guys, the comparison ends right about there. Judging from this disc (their second, as might be guessed), they're a competent regional/local band, but not in the same class as the Scene, or any of the major bands whose material they cover - Doyle Lawson, the Osborne Brothers and the Dillards.

The disc does have some strengths. The vocals are often intriguing, in a Grateful Dead sort of way, and there's a good deal of interesting original material - the instrumental "Camden Special" is among the better tracks, these guys can pick a little bit. Most noticeably, though, the production is a bit muddy and uneven, and it might have served them better if this had been a live album - it would be easy to believe that, like a great many bluegrass bands, they just sound better in performance. (Box 3280, Madison, WI 53704)