Black Music Matters Festival

David Peterson & 1946

In the Mountaintops to Roam – 2006 (Self-released)

Reviewed by J.P. Tausig

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CDs by David Peterson & 1946

David Peterson & 1946's latest is full of drive, clever lyrics and very tight instrumentals. With modern arrangements, this CD is a bridge from bluegrass past to the future of the genre.

Several songs are in the country style, but the most captivating is the title song. "In the Mountaintops to Roam" showcases Peterson's haunting voice and his expressive control and includes some very modern harmonies.

"Put Me on the Trail to Carolina," one of three waltzes, has a barbershop quality. "A Good Woman's Love" and "Fools Moon" are the other two waltzes that not only tell a story, but may make you want to dance with your sweetheart.

In contrast are several hard driving bluegrass songs. ""I'll Still Write Your Name in the Sand," "Careless Love" and "Red Rockin' Chair" are all toe-tapping tunes, driven by the bass playing of Ken Blanton. Fun instrumental breaks by Charlie Cushman's banjo and Mike Compton's mandolin are also a treat.

Less enjoyable are the moments where Peterson vocals are strained by trying to sing high tenor - notably on "In Despair." Also jarring are some of Compton's breaks. Though the Grammy-winning mandolinist is arguably the best Bill Monroe-style picker alive, there are songs where that style just doesn't fit, but that's all you hear. Peterson's guitar playing is clean and impressive, but sometimes it was hard to hear any guitar at all!