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King Wilkie is no fluke

Johnny D's, Somerville, Mass., November 17, 2005

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

King Wilkie came out of the box with good credibility in putting out bluegrass music - last year's "Broke" - that had a modern feel too.

A few things have changed since the Charlottesville, Va. - based sextet released "Broke" on Rebel. They have had a slight change of membership, but more importantly seem to opt for greater variety in their sound in concert.

And truth be told, it worked out just fine.

The band is part of the new breed of bluegrass where they definitely maintain a bluegrass sound - there's no electrics of course of any sort, but they do so with a brighter sound most of the time.

King Wilkie (they were named after Bill Monroe's horse!) played a long 85-minute set of material throughout their career (a good version of "In the Pines" from their "True Songs" CD and "Broke Down and Lonesome" from "Broke" were highlights), including a few choice covers.

They were not content to keep their repertoire only bluegrass. In fact, they even covered a blues song while acknowledging they are not a blues group. But they did the song justice.

John McDonald and Reid Burgess handled lead vocal chores with the affable McDonald, who has a good sense of humor, taking most of the leads perhaps because Burgess was under the weather.

McDonald has quick wit and is a strong storyteller. He also sings just fine while Burgess has a grittier delivery.

King Wilkie tackled some icons for covers including Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen ("Nebraska"), and they certainly put their own stamp on each of the songs to make the music even more interesting.

Drawing a good crowd of about 150 for the hump of the week, King Wilkie showed their acclaim was no fluke.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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