Eastbound/Sam Wilson and the Bluegrass Colonels (#316)

A mix of traditional bluegrass and gospel.


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Sam Wilson and the Bluegrass Colonels, a traditional bluegrass band based in Campton, KY, includes Wilson on guitar, Jeff Claire on banjo, Kenny Blanton on mandolin, and John Belcher on bass. The band got its start in 1968 as the Kentucky Mountain Ramblers.

While he particularly likes to perform the music of veteran bluegrass musician Larry Sparks, Wilson believes that bands should develop their own material rather than copying another group’s sound. This Jubilee performance features such songs as “Little Cabin Home on the Hill,” “I Know You’re Married,” “Kentucky Girl,” “Don’t Neglect the Rose,” “99 Years,” and “Wild, Wild Rose.”

Up next is Eastbound, which features Kentuckians Dean Osborne of Lexington on banjo and Kelly Caldwell-Baker of Hyden on bass. Lead guitar player Ronnie Merrill, mandolin player Rob Moran, and rhythm guitar player Dedria Morgan are from Ohio.

Osborne says the band came together in the late 1980s out of a shared love for gospel songs. “About 70 percent of the songs we perform are gospels,” he says. “This is where our heart lies.”

Eastbound begins its set with “Big Mon,” then continues with “Riding the Midnight Train,” “Green Pastures,” “Everybody Wants To Go to Heaven,” “My Robe of White,” “Gentle River,” and “Little Darlin’.” The show closes with a wonderful rendition of the gospel song “Abraham.”