First Impressions: The Future of the Past by the Tennessee Bluegrass Band

The Tennessee Bluegrass Band consists of former Carolina Blue fiddler Aynsley Porchak plus other players recruited to join Carolina Blue after founding member Timmy Jones departed that band and fellow co-founder Bobby Powell decided to keep it going—up until he changed his mind, that is. Rather than part ways, Porchak and the other band members decided to stick together under a new nom de plume. (For more on that sudsy drama, click here.) Since, it seems, a few other changes have taken place. In addition to Porchak, the band now includes Tyler Griffith on bass, Lincoln Hensley on banjo, Tim Laughlin on mandolin, and Lincoln Mash on guitar. 

An old-time vibe echoes throughout their shimmering debut, The Future of the Past. It may not be for everyone, but for me it hits the sweet spot, recalling the classic bluegrass I played (and delighted in) while deejaying a folk show on my college radio station during the mid-1980s. Porchak’s fiddle and Hensley’s banjo fly, Laughlin’s mandolin cries, and Mash’s guitar hums, all while Tyler Griffith’s bass keep a consistent rhythm. Add to that the glorious harmonies and…yeah. As I sometimes say, “Wow. Just wow.” Here they are performing the Tim Raybon-penned “I’m Warming up to an Old Flame.”

The Future of the Past is an apt title for the album, I should mention. Although they adhere to the template of traditional bluegrass, and Mash’s lead vocals conjure the classic country sides from the ’60s and ‘70s, they also inject their own ideas into the goings-on—Hensley on banjo, especially. (He may look like he’s 12, but he’s about twice that.) And, too, every member is given a chance to shine. Check out the instrumental “Leslie County Blues” for one example:

Which is to say, if you have a hankering for good ol’ fashioned (yet new) fun, something that echoes the long ago while remaining firmly footed in the present, give this a go. Though they didn’t pen any of the tunes, the ones they chose are perfect. Some are relatively recent, such as Paul Brewster’s “Hillbilly Blues,” while others—such as Bobby Spicher’s “Far From You”—go back half a century. Regardless, they all resonate as if captured from the airwaves by a tube-powered Philco radio in the late 1940s. Porchak’s one lead vocal, on Vickie Austin’s gospel-flavored “Angels Watching Me,” is—dare I use this pun?—heavenly, while the instrumental interplay between Hensley and Porchak is a delight throughout.

The track list:

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