THE DIXIE FLYERS
Right On Track
Flat Top Records
(14 Selections – Playing Time 43:19)
London, Ontario-based The Dixie Flyers, are one of Canadian bluegrass music’s seminal bands, dating back to the early 1970’s. Their series of albums on the Boot Records label during their early 80’s heydays, remain as classic examples of the best in Canadian bluegrass, and the bands influence has filtered through to today’s new generation in the genre. Personnel in the band has changed through the years, but the one constant has been founding members Bert Baumbach and Ken Palmer, who continue the handle the lead vocals.
On this latest release, Baumbach (guitar) and Palmer (mandolin) are joined by Paul Hurdle (banjo), Rick Thompson (bass), John P. Allen and Peter Robertson on fiddles and Al Widmeyer on dobro. Although it’s been a while since we’ve been served with some new music by The Dixie Flyers, the title of this new album is confirmation that nothing has changed…The Dixie Flyers are still Right On Track (the vinyl kind, that is).
Bert Baumbach’ gritty and sometimes gruff vocal style is perfect for delivering the mix of country and bluegrass material that is presented here. Baumbach (and the ‘Flyers’, have always been able to incorporate traditional country tunes into their bluegrass repertoire, and on this outing we get three Merle Haggard tunes, Rainbow Stew, Ramblin’ Fever and a particularly right-on version of The Way It Was In ’51. Also featured is a version of Amanda, popularized by Don Williams and by Waylon Jennings; and there’s also a catchy version of the Vern Gosdin hit, Right In The Wrong Direction.
Hardcore bluegrass fans will like the three instrumentals – U.S. 15, Bye Bye Blues and Wild Card; as well as the Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs classic, I’m Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open (more recently covered by Hot Rize and by Dolly Parton); Love Of the Mountains, a modern day bluegrass standard recorded by Lost & Found (and also covered before by Seldom Scene, Larry Sparks, etc.); and the Jimmy Martin hit, Mary Ann, also recently done by The Lonesome River Band.
Just a great bluegrass album…and The Dixie Flyers are still Right On Track.
Review by Matt Kennedy – Bluegrass North Magazine
The Dixie Flyers are veterans of the Canadian bluegrass music scene. From their beginnings in 1974, they’ve plied their craft to audiences throughout Canada, with periodic live dates in the United States (including Indiana’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival). Over the course of this period, they’ve given birth to eight albums (including 1990’s radio compilation Live at the Wellington Tavern). I have a memory of our family practically wearing out an LP copy of Cheaper to Lease as a kid.
The Flyers’ latest effort Right on Track is an engaging mix of material that showcases the band well. The song list includes four strong instrumentals (particularly the final track “Wild Card” penned by banjoist Paul Hurdle) as well as the classics “Amanda” (a hit for Waylon Jennings) and “Sleepin’ with One Eye Open” (recorded recently by Dolly Parton). Standout tracks include the Prine-esque “Love of the Mountains” and the bluesy “Mary Ann.”
Overall, the record is a great document of the Flyers’ in their present place in time. The recording has somewhat of a loose feel in places but that’s ok. Note perfect bluegrass recordings with little soul are a bit too common for my liking. A recording engineer friend recently remarked to me tongue-in-cheek, “Well, you wouldn’t want it to sound like a human played it!”
This record has all the heart and soul you’ll need and you may find it grows on you after repeated listenings. I even warmed to the couple of lyrical barbs at ex-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Pick it up, throw it in your CD player, invite your friends over and hang out with Right on Track. Better yet, go catch the Flyers live somewhere. I hope they come through my hometown soon.
“Congratulations are extended to The Dixie Flyers on the arrival of their new release. Like the Energizer Bunny, ……Ken and Bert just keep going, and going, and going.”
Wilson Moore, HOST, CHMA-FM “Bluegrass Jam”, Sackville, New Brunswick
Exclaim! Canada’s Music Authority.
CD “Dixie Flyers-Right on Track”-REVUE
By Jason Schneider
As a bluegrass institution in Canada since the 1970s, London, Ontario’s Dixie Flyers continue to stay true to Bill Monroe’s vision after receiving the master’s blessing early in their career. However, the selections on this new release find the group tackling several country classics, specifically several from the pen of Merle Haggard (“Ramblin’ Fever” and “Rainbow Stew”). But there’s doubt of the band’s commitment to the old school feel. They many not be the flashiest pickers anymore, but leaders Bert Baumbach and Ken Palmer deftly arrange their material, allowing ample space for their instrumental skills to shine, as well as those of banjo player Paul Hurdle, dobro player Al Widmeyer, and fiddlers John P. Allen and Peter Robertson. It all works together best on the instrumentals “Maggie’s Tune” and “Bye Bye Blues,” which evoke a true back porch feel. That isn’t a slight against the group’s vocals, but they’re a far cry from what is normally described as “high and lonesome.” Still, Right On Track is another solid effort from an important Canadian roots outfit, and should be of interest to any bluegrass or old time music fan.
CKLN 88.1 FM
The songs were well chosen..and really suited to Bert Baumbach’s voice….its matured and really suits the Haggard
stuff. The instruments work on all tracks- hard,straight-down-the road bluegrass, no fooling around, just the real goods.. the production was balanced and even the most significant thing is that the CD clearly reflects what you guys are currently doing, and more importantly, who the Dixie Flyers are in Canadian bluegrass
banjo player- the Grascals
After over 30 years together as a band, The Dixie Flyers CD shows they have distilled and mellowed their sound like fine wine – with a GREAT selection of tunes that Bert Baumbach sings with a lot of empathy.The album underlines their unmistakable dynamic beat and rhythm – due in large part to founding members Baumbach and mandolinist Ken Palmer – that has always been a hallmark of the Dixie Flyers’ sound. Congratulations on a great recording!
Uptown Bluegrass Radio
CFCW- Edmonton, Alberta (Saturdays 6 – 8 p.m.)
CKCQ- Quesnel, BC (Sundays 9 – 10 a.m.)
CKWL- Williams Lake, BC (Sundays 9 – 10 a.m.)
CKBX- 100 Mile House, BC (Sundays 9 – 10 a.m.)
CKMW- Winkler, Manitoba (Sundays 4 – 5 p.m.)
The Dixie Flyers are back to fill a big void in the Canadian bluegrass music scene with their brand new CD, “Right On Track”.The powerful Dixie Flyers sound is intact with the always essential ingredient…FUN.Long overdue, but worth the wait!