Cumberland Gap began taking shape in 1998 with Greg Silsby (vocals, guitar) and Aaron Muskopf (vocals, bass). Kevin Liley (vocals, banjo, mandolin, fiddle) joined the group in 2000 with the departure of guitarist Dave Anderson.
Since the beginning Cumberland Gap has stayed true to its roots. Their acoustic renditions of classic American music and their inspired list of original songs have gained a steadily growing enthusiastic audience.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch named Cumberland Gap one of the "17 local bands you ought to know about" and had this to say about their live shows:
"With their three-part harmonies soaring over strong, inspired string work, Cumberland Gap captures the soulful, upbeat side of American folk and bluegrass."
Sing Out Magazine says: "Cumberland Gap has the ability to be the next hot band and truly deserves the recognition."
And Bluegrass Unlimited has this to say: "This CD is a well thought-out undertaking that will surely bolster the reputation of this dynamic trio."
Best Bluegrass Band
For some aficionados, if the band doesn't sound like the Bluegrass Boys or Flatt and Scruggs, it ain't no part of bluegrass. For others, any jam band with a mandolin qualifies. Cumberland Gap doesn't have time for territorial skirmishes: They're too busy keeping their set lists fresh with offbeat covers of Beatles, John Hartford, Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan tunes; deepening their already profound chops; and turning on both the Edwardsville college kids (lead singer Greg Silsby hails from that side of the river) and skeptical pensioners to their eclectic, intensely melodic, blues-burnished take on bluegrass. Their self-titled 2002 release on Wildstone Audio is the kind of record you'd expect from veterans just off the road touring with Ralph Stanley. Bluegrass débuts rarely vibrate with this kind of imagination, accomplishment, and adventure -- so pay attention, before the festival circuit snatches them away.
Originally published by Riverfront Times Sep 24, 2003
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