On October 24, Special C will celebrate the 40 year anniversary of forming in Chicago as a full-time touring and recording bluegrass band. We find it hard to believe that the band has been continually touring across the USA (performing in every state except Hawaii) since 1975 and also visits Canada, mainland Europe, Ireland and England on a regular basis. The band has also completed tours in Australia and South America. Special C could never have lasted so many years without the continued support and friendship of so many of you, our true friends and fans. You have lodged us, fed us, repaired our vehicles and offered financial support and we are forever grateful. The band legacy is well established only because of the fantastic musicians who have given their all throughout their time in the band – it has been and continues to be a wonderful journey thanks to the fine people who have contributed to the Special C experience.
Special C has had 41 actual members and many more excellent substitute players over the years. Because we only have a few hours for the concert, only current and former members who have recorded with the band will actually perform songs from the recordings on which they originally appeared. We hope that other band alums will attend as well to visit with everyone throughout the course of the evening and we will greatly miss seeing some of the alums who will be on the road performing with the bands they currently tour with and are thus unable to be part of this concert.
Current band members Greg Cahill, Rick Faris, Dustin Benson and Dan Eubanks will be joined by band co-founder Marc Edelstein, Robbie Fulks, Chris Jones, Don Stiernberg, Dallas Wayne, Ollie O’Shea, Tim Dishman, Ron Spears, Paul Kramer, Justin Carbone, Marty Marrone, Darren Wilcox, Drew Carson, Tim Wilson, Scotty Salak, Chris Walz, Keith Baumann, Ed Walsh, David Thomas and Dennis White for this show. Many of these great musicians are still actively performing and touring and we are very grateful they have taken time away from their busy schedules to come in to participate in this event.
We are truly excited about seeing many of the “Special C bluegrass family” on October 24!
Greg Cahill and Russell Sawler have released a book of banjo tablature for all the banjo solos and backup on the Special C Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver Compass Records release. See the News page for details.
Our brief trip to Australia was very enjoyable – we made many new friends, saw beautiful countryside and played a lot of music. We left our home cities on Tuesday afternoon and met in Los Angeles to fly to Melbourne together. We arrived Thursday morning and were met by Alan Davidson, father of our friends Lachlan and Hamish, the Davidson Brothers. We had lunch, went to our hotel for showers and then headed out to do a radio show. Lachlan took Rick and Greg to dinner and for a walking tour of downtown Melbourne (Dustin and Dan rested at the hotel). Friday morning was filled with a radio show phone interview and then an in-studio performance before riding to the MountainGrass Music Festival in Harrietville (a four hour drive – thanks to our driver Eleanor for an enjoyable ride). We performed Friday, Saturday and Sunday, did workshops, had pictures taken near kangaroos and participated in jam sessions into the wee hours each night. What fun to meet and make music with so many great musicians! We were glad to see another American band at the fest – Chris Henry was on tour in country with his band and brought the band to the festival for performances on Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, Eleanor drove us back to Melbourne for our show with our buds the Davidson Brothers at the Northcote Social Club, a really cool venue in the city. We had a great time – a perfect way to end our brief tour before heading home Tuesday morning. Crossing the date line was certainly interesting – our flight departed around noon and we all were home (via a stop in L.A.) by early Tuesday evening (after traveling over 25 hours). We hope we can return to Australia sometime soon – the people are very friendly and welcoming and the country is beautiful.
The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) held the annual IBMA Awards Show on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, NC. As award nominees, we enjoyed walking the red carpet prior to the event and we spoke with our great friend Katy Daley of Washington, DC-based WAMU. Two songs from our March 2014 Compass Records release “Country Boy; A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver” were nominated for awards: “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” was nominated for Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year (with guest fiddlers Buddy Spicher and Michael Cleveland and banjo player Alison Brown) and “Wild Montana Skies” was nominated for Recorded Event of the Year (with guest vocalist Claire Lynch and dobro player Rob Ickes). We were completely surprised when we were announced as the recipient of the instrumental performance award winner and then shocked to hear us announced as the recipient of the recorded event award soon thereafter. It is a huge honor to win these awards, especially since they are voted on by our peers in the world of bluegrass music. We truly could not have made this recording without the support of Alison Brown and Garry West and the entire Compass Records staff who all work so hard for all their artists. Alison Brown is a superb producer who shared her great arrangement ideas, helped us pull together all our friends/special guest musicians who appeared on the recording and who kept us on track (pun intended) and focused. We are forever grateful to our longtime friends and Executive Producers Tom and Barb Laing for providing the financial support that made the recording possible, and we thank our good friend Rick Spratt for planting the seed of the concept for the recording. Dave Royko wrote excellent liner notes (nominated for Best Liner Notes) and our musician friends who graciously contributed their awesome talents to the recording include Dale Ann Bradley, Jason Carter, Michael Cleveland, John Cowan, Rob Ickes, Jim Lauderdale, Claire Lynch, Peter Rowan, Buddy Spicher, Rhonda Vincent and our Producer, Alison Brown. Thanks to all of the radio personalities who play our music, to our families who put up with our intense tour schedule and to our friends and fans around the world who have supported Special C throughout the band’s career – we would not be here today without your support!
We are extremely pleased that our new “Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver” recording debuted at #4 on the huge Billboard Top Best Selling Albums Chart. Very happy about that!
The April issue of the IBMA newsletter International Bluegrass has a nice article about the new Special C recording. Here is the link to the newsletter:
Here is a link to an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on March 25, the release date for our new Compass Records recording “Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver”: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-special-consensus-review-20140324,0,2564143.story.
Here is a link to view a video of us playing Wild Montana Skies with guests Claire Lynch singing and Rob Ickes playing dobro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VZLyqc8f5Y&feature=youtu.be .
For a look behind the scenes about the making of our new “Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver” on the Compass Records label, follow this link:
(Nashville TN) February 12, 2014 – Grammy-nominated Special Consensus joins forces with contemporary bluegrass music’s best on Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver slated for release on March 25. There is a natural affinity between bluegrass musicians and John Denver’s repertoire but this is the first purely bluegrass tribute to the iconic singer/songwriter who died in 1997.
Country Boy features Special Consensus at the musical center of each track with a guest cast of Grammy-winning and International Bluegrass Music Association-winning vocalists and instrumentalists joining in. Produced by Compass Records co-founder Alison Brown, the album’s 10 tracks draw from across Denver’s hits and lesser-known songs.
Talking about the genesis for the idea, band founder Greg Cahill comments: “I’ve met so many people who were affected by John’s music and so many musicians who mention him as an inspiration. It felt like a bluegrass interpretation of his songs would be something really special and might also serve as a way to connect more people to bluegrass music.”
And there is no question that the album achieves some special musical moments – both vocal and instrumental. Special Consensus mandolinist Rick Faris and reigning International Bluegrass Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year Claire Lynch share lead vocal duties on the album’s first track Wild Montana Skies, their vocal lines perfectly complemented by Rob Ickes’ Dobro. On Country Roads, Special Consensus guitarist Dustin Benson and the legendary John Cowan swap verses against a tapestry of banjo and fiddle provided by Greg Cahill and Del McCoury band fiddler Jason Carter. And, in a surprise twist, Special Consensus delivers an all instrumental version of Thank God I’m a Country Boy with the twin fiddles of label mate Michael Cleveland and session ace Buddy Spicher AND twin banjos (Greg Cahill and Alison Brown). The entire cast of featured guests includes Dale Ann Bradley, Jason Carter, Mike Cleveland, John Cowan, Rob Ickes, Jim Lauderdale, Claire Lynch, Peter Rowan, Buddy Spicher and Rhonda Vincent.