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Best Bluegrass Band

Cumberland Gap

For some aficionados, if the band doesn't sound like the Bluegrass Boys or Flatt and Scruggs, it ain't no part of bluegrass. For others, any jam band with a mandolin qualifies. Cumberland Gap doesn't have time for territorial skirmishes: They're too busy keeping their set lists fresh with offbeat covers of Beatles, John Hartford, Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan tunes; deepening their already profound chops; and turning on both the Edwardsville college kids (lead singer Greg Silsby hails from that side of the river) and skeptical pensioners to their eclectic, intensely melodic, blues-burnished take on bluegrass. Their self-titled 2002 release on Wildstone Audio is the kind of record you'd expect from veterans just off the road touring with Ralph Stanley. Bluegrass débuts rarely vibrate with this kind of imagination, accomplishment, and adventure -- so pay attention, before the festival circuit snatches them away.

 
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