Jeff Burger, No Depression May, 2016
Blue Plate Special's Tasty Platter
Opting to concentrate mostly on live performance, the New Jersey-based Blue Plate Special have delivered only four albums in their 15 years together. But their bluegrass-, country-, folk-, and swing-influenced music sounds just as compelling on record as it does on stage.
It helps that each member of the quintet ably wears several hats: while Jay Friedman or banjo/guitar player Dan Whitener sings lead on most of the songs on the new Back by Popular Demand, the group’s other members all take turns in the vocal spotlight; and among them, the five play banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and upright bass. Plus, four of them are songwriters, and this all-originals collection finds them delivering numbers that seem good enough to be old standards.
The diversity is as impressive as the musicianship. Sometimes, such as on Whitener’s “You Can Never Go Home Again,” they sound like Appalachian heirs to traditional bluegrass and country outfits; Jay Friedman’s charming “Rotary Phone,” meanwhile, is a bit redolent of pop vocal groups from the 1940s; Dave Gross’s “Oh Lord I’m Down in a Hole” has gospel roots; and Friedman’s moody “Bed of Roses” reminds me of the seventies work of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.
“Bluegrass Under The Stars Benefit”
The Ridgewood Blog 6/2019
Blue Plate Special plays the kind of music that can make you feel like you’re home wherever you are. A group of infinitely talented musicians and singer-songwriters, Blue Plate Special performs Americana, bluegrass, and swing. Their latest album, Back By Popular Demand (2016) features fourteen original tunes. Thematically eclectic, the songs will take you on a bluegrass-style journey through life, from the depths of a man’s sorrow, to courtship on a rotary phone. The band has a sense of humor as well; one of the catchiest tunes on the album is a waltzy number about the end of the world. Even if you’ve never heard a lick of bluegrass, a night with Blue Plate Special will make you realize this music was in you all along.
"Wife Swap" TV shoot.
Farm Festival, Northern Westchester, NY
Our latest recording