On the 24th of October, a good many of the 46 members of the Special Consensus will gather for four hours at the Old Town School Of Folk Music on Chicago’s storied Lincoln Avenue to celebrate forty years of perpetual bluegrass. Since 1975 the respected and well-traveled band has featured sixteen different guitarists, twelve bass players, fifteen mandolin players, two fiddlers, and one smiling banjo virtuoso/bandleader: Greg Cahill.
“Since the fifteenth year anniversary of the band, we’ve done a reunion every five years,” Cahill said. “It’s become kind of a tradition. We get as many folks who have recorded with the band to come in, and we play songs from each of the 17 albums with the people who were on the original recordings. So far, I know we’ve got Chris Jones, Dallas Wayne, Timmy Dishman, Jamie Clifton, Justin Carbone, and Andrea Roberts. It’s as much of a social gathering as it is a musical event, a time for us to check in with each other and tell stories. Since the band has only had one banjo player, I’m onstage a long time,” Cahill laughed. “And a lot of folks who have been following the band come out and support us.”
When Cahill started the band, he had no idea Special C would be surviving and thriving four decades later. “I certainly never thought it would last this long,” he said. “I was going to do it for a couple of years. I had just got out of the Army and grad school and had a nice job; I have a master’s degree in social work. I was working with young folks, trying to keep them off drugs and doing family counseling. I was the director of a consortia of youth programming. I liked it.” Cahill started giving free banjo lessons on Thursday nights to some of his young and at-risk clients to give them something positive to get involved with. It went well and, most nights, he was so pumped up after lessons that he found himself still picking and practicing at three a.m. the next morning. Read entire article »