"Cherishing Memories" is the last cd recorded by the Virginia Cutups, who performed traditional bluegrass music for over twenty years. The band at many venues over the years, including NPR's A Prairie Home Companion, the Grass Valley Festival in Grass Valley California, the Jerseytown, Pa. festival, The Littleton, NC Butterwood Bluegrass Festival, Norman Adams Mineral, Virginia festival, The Clinton, NJ Bluegrass Festival, the Old School House in Lucketts, Va, the Christoper Run festival in Louisa, Va, Eddie Adcock's festival at Woodstock, Va, the Little Margaret festival in eastern Maryland, the Grottos (Va) Bluegrass festival and the Graves Mountain festival in Syria, Va.; and regularly at other festivals, fairs and concerts throughout Virginia and the southeast.
Recordings and Reviews
The Virginia Cutups currently have in print five cds of original and traditional tunes: Originals, Bluegrass and Gospel Favorites, Yesterday Fifty Years Ago, From the Heart of Virginia, and Cherishing Memories (2002).
Bluegrass Unlimited Review of 'Yesterday 50 Years Ago'
Pleasant Hill/Another Lonesome Song/Pretty Polly/My Soul He'll Save/The Back Road Home/Somebody Loves You Darling/Wild Side Of Life/The Wind In The Pines/Clear Skies/Matthew: 24/Easier To Sing Like An Angel/One Tear Drop And One Step Away
There are perhaps dozens of excellent young, neo-traditional bluegrass bands out there today, with fine lead singers, gorgeous harmonies, accomplished instrumentalists, and interesting new material. Yet almost none of them, to the ears of geriatric curmudgeons who grew up in the 50s, really nails the traditional sound. Musicologists might find the difference in subtle chord structures, note progressions or vocal tones. Anthropologists would probably see changes in cultural contexts. And skeptics will just laugh at old fogies ossified in the sounds of their youth. So call it chords, culture or curmudgeonliness: These guys are the Real Thing, lifted straight out the golden age of bluegrass. They've got the fire, the edge, the intensity that turned a bunch of us onto the music 40 years ago. Breeden's banjo playing reincarnates Don Reno up and down the neck, with a healthy spice of Stanley rolls fingered into the mix. His work on "Pretty Polly," which we've all heard a thousand times, transforms it into a fresh, wild thing. He's also an excellent lead guitarist, as his breaks on "My Soul He'll Save" and "One Tear Drop" attest. But Breeden isn't the whole show; Jeff Vogelgesang is no slouch as a lead guitarist, either, and his mandolin playing, around Breeden's banjo and guitar, has plenty of power and richness of its own. Charles Frazier's strong, high, piercing lead vocals will never be mistaken for folk or pop; he's a driving bluegrass presence all the way, perfectly complimented in the trios by Vogelgesang's tenor and Donnie Shifflett's baritone. Shifflett's bass playing and Frazier's rhythm guitar harken back to when those instruments supported the music instead of pounding it into submission - they're just right.
As Dave Freeman of County and Rebel Records has said of Breeden and the Cutups, there's a subtle, almost indefinable difference between this kind of music (a category which could include Bob Paisley's band, Dave Evans, Del McCoury, James King, and a few others) and top "contemporary traditional" bluegrass, and it's a difference worth preserving not for us geriatic cases. If you want the authentic spirit, here it is. JR Â© 1999. Bluegrass Unlimited, Inc. All rights reserved.
Alvin Breeden, the banjo player and founder of the band, is a painting contractor who lives on his family home site on Buck Mountain in rural Albemarle County, near Earlysville, Virginia. Alvin loves to hunt and fish, and claims to have once killed three turkeys with one shot.
Alvin's father and mother were both one-quarter american indian, and the family farmed, and Alvin's father worked in a telephone pole spindle factory in Charlottesville, and later at a shipyard in Baltimore, Maryland. On one trip home, Alvin's father brought back an old banjo and Alvin discovered that his mother played clawhammer-style, and taught Alvin his first song, a tune called 'Greasy Strings'. Early on, Alvin began to listen to the music of banjo player Don Reno, along with Red Smiley and the Shenandoah Cutups, based in Virginia.
Charles has been the guitar player and lead singer for the past 15 years. His early bluegrass idol was Jimmy Martin, and Charles learned his musical chops from records and later by associating with Alvin. Charles' first music experience came with the central Virginia band Skyline Express and he later joined Alvin as mandolin player, before moving to guitar. Charles is a powerful tenor singer, and writes a good tune.
Upright bass. Donnie, with the band for 10 years, comes from Greene County, Virginia, outside the town of Dyke.
Jeff is a native of Ohio, and joined the band about ten years ago. Jeff worked in Ohio with the band Northwest Territory, along with Mike Gorrell, formerly of Whetstone Run, and the legendary bass man Ed Ferris.
Check out the artist's website:
1. I'll Always Cherish You
2. Rivers of Babylon
3. Shout Little Lulie
4. Don't Take Advantage of Me
5. Country Side of Heaven
6. The Children Are Crying
7. Philadelphia Lawyer
8. Kiss Me Once Again
9. In My Mind to Wander Back
10. Come Hither to Go Yonder
11. Go Rest High
12. Little Henry Lee
13. Loving You Too Well
14. Young Man's Song
15. By the Mark