Forever Yours Liner Notes
By: Steve Gulley
I first had the pleasure of hearing the Hagars Mountain Boys about a year and a half ago. They were entered in a band competition at a bluegrass festival in Kentucky where I was one of the judges. Upon hearing them perform that night, I was immediately struck, not only by the energy and precision of their music, but by the strong sense of unity I felt while watching them play and sing. You could tell immediately that they loved playing together. They didn’t play or sing like a bunch of individuals but truly like a band. That’s what struck me about the way they approached their stage show. There were no stars or ego-driven arrangements. No one person was bigger than the band. That, to me, is what music is all about. They were my hands-down pick to win the competition and they did just that in a runaway. They clicked on all cylinders like a well-oiled machine.
Fast forward to today and the new recording project you hold in your hands. I hear the same qualities in this recording as I did that night . The same tight vocal harmonies, the same band – inspired arrangements, the same enthusiasm in the music. With “Forever Yours”, they have drawn from familiar wells as well as new ones utilizing great original material as well as putting their own signature on some time-honored classics. Blake Johnson shows his vocal versatility on everything from hard driving murder ballads to an acoustic version of Travis Tritt’s, “Anymore”. In doing so, he seems equally at home with either. That’s one of those intangibles that seem so hard to find in any genre of music. When Blake’s father, Mike, steps front and center and takes over the lead vocal chores, he shows his experience with his strong, believable style and smooth delivery. Ricky Stroud on mandolin and tenor vocals and Cliff Smith on banjo and bass vocals round out the group. Their contributions are just as strong and are an integral part of the band’s sound as well.
From the painful tragedy of “Shot Man Blues” to the promise of undying love in “Forever Yours”, The Hagars Mountain Boys convey each message, attitude, tempo and note with a conviction that’s so hard to find in a lot of up and coming bands. With the added help of producer Jason Moore and engineer Wes Easter, they have created a great project front to back. They’ve captured their live intensity on this recording project and they’ve done it all as a tight knit group. A bunch of guys who care about the music but also about each other. It shows in the finished product and you’ll love it just like I did the first time I heard them that night in Kentucky. Great job guys!
Cumberland Gap, TN