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SPRINGFIELD EXIT – Springfield Exit
Review by Joe Ross, Roseburg, Oregon - email rossjoe@hotmail.com

Springfield ExitCracker Barrel's 500 stores now have listening stations equipped with headphones where you can hear selections from their catalog of heritage albums that span bluegrass to Celtic, country to Cajun, and Native American to traditional jazz. Launched in collaboration with the National Council for the Traditional Arts, the label celebrates regionally-inspired traditional music.

In 2002, East Tennessee country singer Linda Lay put out an especially pleasant package of classic country favorites called “Linda's Mercantile Store” (CB-101). Successful shows and rave reviews in support of that album led to the trio of Linda and David Lay, along with David McLaughlin, to stay together as a band called Springfield Exit. Guests include Rickie Simpkins (fiddle) and Ricky Davis (pedal steel).

Raised in Bristol, Virginia, Linda Lay was singing on stage with her father and uncles by the time she was only six. She and her husband used to perform with the band, Appalachian Trail, and they now have a vegetable farm and country store in the Goshen Valley of Tennessee. She sings and plays acoustic bass. David Lay is a talented harmony singer and solid rhythm guitar player. From east Tennessee, he has traveled extensively and has beena featured guitarist with the Masters of the Steel String Guitar. A full-time musician since 1978, David McLaughlin was a founding member of The Johnson Mountain Boys, a group twice nominated for a Grammy Award. He has played the Grand Ole Opry, the White House, Carnegie Hall, and on TNN. In the mid-1990s, he was with the country and folk duo, Crowe & McLaughlin. McLaughlin plays several instruments and sings harmony with Springfield Exit.

Springfield Exit's instrumental prowess, singing, and song selection make for a pleasant experience. “Miss Linda” has a magnetic voice, and she has an affinity for singing stories about life drawn from the pens of Tom T. and Dixie Hall, Dolly Parton, Hazel Dickens, Don Williams, Greg Brown, Dale Ann Bradley and Vicki Simmons, and others. Springfield Exit's country cookin' primarily simmers on a burner of slower to moderate tempos with toe-tapping rhythms. While certainly not bluegrass in its truest sense, the band has a relaxed and comfortable commercial sound with classic country sensibilities. Linda sings powerfully and with good vocal control. Songs are nicely arranged and are tastefully delivered. Springfield Exit will bring many hours of listening enjoyment to fans of acoustic country music with light percussion and pedal steel. (Joe Ross)


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