In the world of bluegrass these days, tradition and innovation are gradually falling into the hands of a younger, very talented generation. Rob Benzing is an outstanding example of why that should happen. He fell in love with the bluegrass sound when he was a kid, listening to and learning from the greats—Don Reno and Earl Scruggs—and was playing the banjo by the time he was ten.
Now he’s found his ground, stepping out with a project that demonstrates a full command of the instrument and the wide range of tunes—both classic and progressive-- that go with it. He’s assembled a sparkling constellation of fellow artists to showcase his abilities and theirs: Danny Knicely on guitar; Taylor Baker on mandolin; Mark Schatz on bass; fiddler Patrick McAvinue; vocalists/ instrumentalists Jacob and Joey Mosley, Scott Brannon, and Tom Mindte.
Benzing shows his mastery of bluegrass banjo licks in hard-driving classics like Reno tunes Dixie Breakdown, and Sockeye, and Scruggs’ Lonesome Road Blues; handily tackles some ?less-than-standard chord progressions in the quirky Armadillo Breakdown; balances meter and melody on The Bells of St Mary’s; and shows what a banjo can do in back-up as well as solo in vocal standards No Longer a Sweetheart of Mine, Have You Come to Say Goodbye? and It’s Only Right That I Should Pay. He comfortably finds a modal groove to underscore the lyrics in the melancholy Lonesome River and Jacob Mosley’s haunting Carry Me. But that’s not all--Benzing has included two of his own compositions, to excellent effect: Monocacy Crossing flows across the frets from low to high with echoes of swing; Fingerboard Road, as the name suggests, is fast, light and deft, producing a sound both inventive and as old as the hills.
Benzing hails from Maryland and travels all around to traditional music gatherings, clubs and festivals where he is fast gaining a reputation as a banjo adept who can hang in with a new tune and give it that good old feeling, or add a new twist to a familiar classic. On this CD he has concocted a rich musical sampling: a little bit of Reno, a little bit of Scruggs, and a whole lot of Benzing.