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90 Second Spin: Mountain Voodoo from Balsam Range

Balsam Range

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CRAIG HAVIGHURST)  --  Western North Carolina is once again the nation’s hot spot for top-flight bluegrass bands and nobody from the region is getting more attention or praise these days than Smoky Mountain quintet Balsam Range. They released their sixth album Mountain Voodoo on November 11.

Buddy Melton is the band’s prize-winning and beloved tenor vocalist. Caleb Smith is one of the young stars of bluegrass guitar and an impressive singer too. On the new album, they team up on “Blue Collar Dreams,” a classic feeling duet.

Its theme – pride of place and trying to make it in a small town – is visited throughout Mountain Voodoo. The material comes mostly from top bluegrass songwriters, especially band friend Milan Miller, who contributed the swinging honky tonker “Hello Heartache.”

Balsam Range formed in the mid 2000s and hummed along as a respected regional group for a time. Then about four years ago, their peers began throwing awards at them. The International Bluegrass Music Association dubbed 2012’s Papertown its Album of the Year. The band was named Entertainers of the Year in 2014.

So there’s no mystery why anticipation is high for Mountain Voodoo.