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We Won An IBMA Award For “Long I Ride” – 2016

We attended the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards Show in Raleigh, NC on Thursday, September 29, 2016. The Awards Show is part of the week-long IBMA “World of Bluegrass” annual gathering that also includes a weekday business conference and a weekend bluegrass festival. We were truly surprised (shocked is a better description) when the first award of the evening was announced and the winner for the Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year Award was Special Consensus! We are so honored to have won this award for the tune Fireball from our new Compass Records release “Long I Ride,” which included phenominal playing by our friends Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley and our producer Alison Brown. We sincerely thank all of our peers and IBMA Member fans for voting for us. This was our third IBMA award; we received two others in 2014 for selections from our “Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver” Compass Records release.

New Banjo Tablature Book

Hal Leonard Corporation has just released a banjo tablature book titled “First 50 Songs You Should Play On Banjo” featuring 25 clawhammer banjo arrangements by Michael Miles and 25 three-finger (bluegrass) style arrangements by Greg Cahill. The bluegrass arrangements include a variety that spans traditional tunes like “Old Joe Clark” and “Cripple Creek” to standards like “All of Me” and “Hey, Good Lookin’.” The book sells for $15 and is available at all Special C appearances and will soon be included on the Store page of this site.

Our New 2016 “Long I Ride” Recording

We are so pleased to announce the release of our new Long I Ride recording on the Compass Records label. The recording includes songs written by Special C alums Robbie Fulks (Long I Ride) and Justin Carbone (Time For Movin’ On); a song co-written with Special C alum Ryan Roberts (Life Stories); songs from our songwriter friends Larry Cordle (Highway 40 Blues), Tim Stafford and Craig Market (New Shennandoah), Joe Newberry (Baby I’m Blue), and Bob Amos (Where The Wild River Flows); a tune from Josh Graves with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs (Fireball); a Stoney La Rue song (First One To Know) and an acapella gospel quartet (Jesus Is My Rock). The recording became even more “special” to us when our friends from Della Mae joined us on Highway 40 Blues, Matt Combs and Buddy Spicher played incredible twin fiddles on Baby I’m Blue and Summer McMahan sang beautifully on First One To Know. We had a really fun time recording the instrumental Fireball with Rob Ickes (dobro) and Trey Hensley (guitar) playing with us and our twin banjo solos (with Alison Brown and Greg using Keith tuners in harmony!) and twin mandolin solos (with Rick and Nick playing in harmony). This was an exciting project for us and we hope our friends and fans will enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed recording.

Nice article

Our old friend Eddie Collins wrote a very nice article about our 40th Anniversary concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music in October 2015 for Banjo Newsletter. Here is the link: https://banjonews.com/2016-05/special_consensus_40th_anniversary.html

Fresno, CA

We had the privilege of playing some music for some of the youngsters at Valley Children’s Hospital while on tour in California last week. Here is a link: http://video.valleypbs.org/video/2365653160/

New Band Member

We are excited about moving our mandolin player Rick Faris over to guitar – he is a superb player and this will give him the opportunity to play one of the excellent guitars he builds on stage with us – and we are bringing in a great player and singer named Nick Dumas from the Seattle, WA area. Nick has played in that region in bands with Chris Luquette (guitarist with Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen) and Stephen Burwell (fiddler with Doyle Lawson). He will begin his tenure with the band in November.

40th Anniversary/Reunion concert

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!

New Banjo Tablature Book

Country Boy Banjo Tabs from Greg CahillGreg Cahill has announced the availability of a book of banjo tab transcriptions that match the most recent Special Consensus album, Country Boy – A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver. The book contains tablature for all of the banjo played on the record, solos and backup alike. All transcriptions were done by Canadian banjo picker  Russell Sawler, who has done tab books for J.D. Crowe, Ron Stewart and Jason Davis as well. As the title suggests, Country Boy features Special C’s versions of a number of classic John Denver songs, offered in their distinctive bluegrass style.
 Songs included in the Cahill book are:
  • Wild Montana Skies
  • Thank God I’m A Country Boy
  • Poems, Prayers & Promises
  • Take Me Home Country Roads
  • Sunshine On My Shoulder
  • Back Home Again
  • Rocky Mountain High
  • Eagles & Horses
  • Matthew
The book is available now at any Special Consensus show and on the Store page of this website.


Banjo Tab Book

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.

Australia tour 2014

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.