Bluegrass fans who think there are no bands left that plow through straight-ahead classics and aren’t afraid to put out an entire album of cover tunes just need to acquaint themselves with Aspen Run, a regional outfit from Maryland. The group has only been together a few short years, with the youngest members having picked up their first instruments in 2005. Wanted is the band’s first CD, a packed disc featuring 19 hits that traditionalists will recognize and enjoy.
Aspen Run is made up of brothers Clayton (mandolin), Aaron (bass), and Herb Martin III (guitar), their dad Herb Martin, Jr., (guitar), Max Allison (banjo), and Steve Unkart (guitar). Clayton, Herb, Jr., Herb III, and Unkart share the vocal duties. The group mentions in their publicity that they are heavily influenced by Jimmy Martin, the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Johnson Mountain Boys, Del McCoury, Kody Norris, and Danny Paisley—a regular Traditional Bluegrass 101 course of study. Those influences show up in the familiar tunes on the album, particularly on the Stanleys’ “Sharecropper’s Son,” Martin’s trademarks “Sunny Side Of The Mountain,” “Theme Time,” and “Milwaukee Here I Come,” and Monroe’s “Rawhide.”
The recording quality is good, but doesn’t lose the aura of the festival stage sound, a hard trait to explain, but essential to a cover band’s success in bluegrass. Simply put, Wanted is made for those who love hard-driving bluegrass that goes back to the first generation of musicians, but has a modern twist. (Aspen Run, 2423 Neudecker Rd., Westminster, MD 21157, www.aspenrunbluegrass.com.) MB