David Royko Psy.D

david@davidroyko.com

Bluegrass Unlimited
CD Review
by David Royko
February, 2010

The Dixie Bee-Liners

Susanville
Pinecastle PRC-1171


Shades of Bruce Springsteen--at least when he’s behind the wheel of a vehicle and in a happy mood. Susanville, The Dixie Bee-Liners’ third album, begins with a few banjo chords, and a GPS-like voice instructing, “Enter highway; drive more than two thousand miles,” and ends with a similar final track proclaiming, “Arrive at destination.”

In between are a few more global positioning pointers, and a bakers’ dozen of songs relating to the cars, trucks, truck stops and the open road, all originals and most co-written by lead vocalists Brandi Hart and Buddy Woodward. Bluegrass mingles with blues, swing and honky-tonk, and need I say, it would be a terrific CD for road trips of any length. Even though it pulls into some lyrically forlorn places, such as the title track, the music is always upbeat and infectiously rhythmic. One can almost see the beehive hairdo atop the waitress of “Trixie’s Diesel-Stop Café” as she offers her tiger puddin’ (featuring guest vocalist Kay Adams).

The sextet (as it was at the time Susanville was recorded) appears to feature some instrument-swapping, and between Woodward and Hart features guitars (including the 12-string and a telecaster), mandolin, dulcimer, fiddle, and harmonica. Rachel Renee Johnson (fiddle, bouzouki, harmony vocals), Jeremy Darrow (doghouse and electric  basses, cell, mandolin, guitar), Jonathan Maness (lead guitar, mandolin, harmony vocals), and banjoist Sam Morrow complete the band, with guests Dan Dugmore (pedal steel), Steve Duncan (drums--sparingly!), Todd Livingston (dobro), John Jorgenson (various keyboards), and bass guitarist Wayne Wilson helping out in spots. Bil VornDick produced.

Breezy but substantial, the Dixie Bee-Liners should appeal to fans of modern bluegrass and far beyond. (Pinecastle Records, Box 753, Columbus, NC 28722 <www.pinecastle.com>) DR