Monday, January 23, 2012

Standards: Blue Skies

Special Consensus: Blue Skies


If it’s a cloudy, gray day and you’re feeling down, then find a happy, upbeat version of “Blue Skies” to get yourself smiling again. At least that’s what we do out here in rainy Oregon. After being written in 1926 by Irving Berlin for the Rodgers and Hart musical, Betsy, the song became an immediate hit. One unique rendition is a bluegrass instrumental arrangement by the award-winning Special Consensus band. Besides traditional and contemporary offerings, they’re a band that specifically looks for songs from other genres to ‘grass up. They might find something with Celtic flavorings, or they might take a liking to an old classic country number. In this case, Special Consensus took the popular classic jazz standard and turned it into a signature tune for their band.

Together since 1975, Special Consensus knows what works and doesn't. Their main ingredient is driving banjo-centric material that allows Greg Cahill to demonstrate his flexibility, creativity and eclecticism with the others band members’ solid instrumental prowess. From Chicago, Cahill is highly respected by his bluegrass peers as a consensus builder, and he has served as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s President and Board Chairman.

On their 2007 album release with this track, the band was rounded out with Ron Spears (mandolin), Justin Carbone (guitar) and David Thomas (bass). “The Trail of Aching Hearts” album also featured some key guests to embellish their sound -- Tim Crouch (fiddle), Rob Ickes and Phil Leadbetter (Dobro), Tres Nugent and Tim Dishman (bass). It’s Dishman who actually got the nod for the grooving bass break in “Blue Skies.”

Special Consensus is a bluegrass band with a long track record of success. Their aptitude and diversity displayed with a jazz classic like “Blue Skies” will give you a small taste as to why they garner so much notoriety and fame.

Guest Post by Joe Ross

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