Brad Benge has spent most of his time in music behind the scenes. Hailing from Oklahoma City, he did a three-year stint playing guitar for Byron Berline before learning to work the boards. For a decade, he was chief engineer at Palladium Recording before going on the road for four years as the soundman for Tommy Emmanuel. Along the way, Benge continued to play music and write songs and eventually moved to Nashville a couple of years ago to continue his producing and engineering career, hence the title of this album.
When Benge moved forward with this album, he not only brought his own guitar, bass, drums, and piano skills to the project, he also used his industry contacts to bring in session pickers such as former boss Emmanuel, Ron Block, Paul Franklin, Stuart Duncan, Kym Warner, and Chase Foster. The only drawback here is that I would describe Benge’s lead vocals as adequate and pleasant enough, but not quite strong enough to front a working band in a lead way. Still, this is obviously a labor of love.
To his credit, Benge brings four original songs to the project, going back and forth from bluegrass stylings to more traditional country music sounds. And, he has the good sense to let his excellent troupe of backing musicians take flight on Flatt & Scruggs’ “My Saro Jane,” on which it’s nice to hear Emmanuel’s sweet guitar playing mixed with smoking riffs by Block, Duncan, and Warner. Those of you who enjoy and collect classic rock songs performed roots/bluegrass style, you might appreciate the versions of Boston’s “Hitch A Ride” and Elton John’s “Country Comfort.” (Brad Benge, P.O. Box 178202, Nashville, TN 37217, facebook.com/bradbenge.)DH