If the saying “variety is the spice of life” is true, The Acoustic Burgoo is the equivalent of my grandmother’s cooking drawer. There was a lot of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and other baking flavors for a comforting dish. There were plenty of herbs for savory dishes, and some pepper for bite. And a couple of things you just never saw coming, like when she put cocoa powder in chili con carne.
The Burgoo’s first album, Soul Bucket, had a heavy influence of jazz, with Melissa Wright’s steamy vocals complementing Rudy Bzdyk’s horn playing over the top of pure bluegrass that delivered a New Orleans meets Deep Gap, NC, style. Their latest album, Word, brings the Appalachian sound of their origin in Round Hill, VA, more to the fore. When they veer off course this time it leans more to roots and rockabilly. Take, for instance, Here Kitty Kitty that’s a natural for busking with a skittle band at the farmers market. Or ’66 Corvette, where Wright channels Wanda Jackson in her prime.
Primarily, though, this is a bluegrass and old-timey music collection. The disc starts with Uncle Pen, a Bill Monroe number, then picks its way into a Burgoo arrangement of the traditional Ida Red. After a quick roots break, they then cover Flatt & Scruggs with Some Old Day. Further down the set list Wright does her take on the Patsy Cline classic, Walkin’ After Midnight.
Although the band certainly handles their instrumental choices with a tightness that belies the fact they’re going to different colleges and can’t possibly play together day in and day out, I found I missed the richness the horns added on their first album. Thankfully, Rudy gives us a good blast of trumpet on WD-40 and a subtle bit on Frozen Winter Sound.
It feels a little like the band is still feeling its way through stylistic variations on their way to finding their core musical sound. It would be a serious mistake, though, to wait for things to settle down. Take the journey along with them and you’ll be rewarded with many a trip down delightful side roads.
Update: The Acoustic Burgoo are such fans of Twangville readers they’ve offered up a special deal. Just go to their page on Bandcamp, enter shawnstwangers as the discount code and you can get the full album and artwork for just two bucks. How sweet a deal is that!
About the author: Support new music. Listen to a band or singer you've never heard of this week. I've been doing that for over 30 years.