Northern Connection

Northern Connection – 2016 (Patuxent)

Reviewed by Devin Adams

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CDs by Northern Connection

Baltimore-based Northern Connection pulls no punches. To put it bluntly, it is filled with the bluest grass five pickers can muster. The entire project has been laced with bluegrass straight from its fathers including selections from Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs, to name a few. Even Haggard makes an appearance. The songs included are a not so subtle tribute to those who inspired the band in their younger years, as all but 2 of the 15 songs found are basically bluegrass standards.

A fantastic collection of pickers to be sure, banjo picker Bobby Lundy is a stand out, especially on Jim and Jesse's "Nobody But You," and Steve Streett gets to show off his fiddle chops on "Bill Cheatham." Vocally, Northern Connection is raw and unrefined lead by guitarist Frankie Short Jr. with harmony provided by mandolin picker Mark Seitz and bassist Brian Eldreth. The unique sound of the tenor part is enough to satisfy any bluegrass purist.

Northern Connection takes few if any liberties. The arrangements are simple, the lyrics direct, and the production is not abused, producing that true grass sound reminiscent of so many treasured recordings from years gone by. Any track from this recording would blend perfectly in a playlist of music from the 1960s.

As a whole, this recording will keep the toes tapping with its rapid-fire delivery of music, especially "Loggin Man" which will leave the listener, as it likely did the band, breathless. If any drawback can be found with this recording, it may be the lack of original compositions thereby restricting the band's ability to cut loose and do its own thing. That said, this recording is fun, true to intention and sounds like a great reminder of music from the past.