The earliest generation of bluegrass musicians -- beginning with Bill Monroe's rise to popularity in the 1930s -- had a distinctive sound, and indeed banjo was an important part of the mix. These days, though, there's been an evolution of the tradition, thanks to tastes, musicianship and possibly the more gracile recording and broadcasting technologies. And, as the Gateway Ramblers reiterate, you don't need a banjo to play bluegrass.
The sound of the Gateway Ramblers here -— very refined, richly musical and melodic -— is a beautiful reflection of where bluegrass music is today. The beautiful traded solos in "Saint Louis Blues" are a delight. The dobro is front and center and serves to define the sound of the trio. The band's song selection is pleasing as well. "Just Like You" was written by Pete Wernick, and this version is a beautiful tip of the hat to a great player and writer.
The Gateway Ramblers form a nice trio with a great grounding in the bluegrass songbook, and a beautifully delicate approach to their instruments and the music.