The Special Consensus
The Special Consensus
The Special Consensus in 2011
|Labels||Compass Records, Pinecastle Records, ShyTown Records, Turqouise Records, Acoustic Revival Records, Tin Ear Records|
|Members||Greg Cahill (banjo)|
Nate Burie (mandolin)
Dan Eubanks (upright bass)
Rick Faris (guitar)
|Past members||(see Past Members section below)|
In 1973, graduate student Cahill jammed with other bluegrass musicians at the University of Chicago Folk Festival. They began playing house parties, but in 1975 Cahill and bassist Marc Edelstein decided to pursue a music career for a few years as Special Consensus. The initial line-up included Cahill, Edelstein, Jeremy Raven (mandolin), Jim Iberg (guitar), and Jim Hale (fiddle).
The band name was inspired by a series of books written by Carlos Castenada about rituals of the Yaqui Indians. Special Consensus was a state where spiritual and physical good things physically came together. Plus, a band is a consensus of musicians providing performance and inspiration.
As of 2014, the Special Consensus membership has included 16 guitarists, 12 bass players, 15 mandolin players, and two fiddlers. Bandleader Greg Cahill has been the one consistent member through the band's history.
Special Consensus tours frequently across the U.S. Every other year, the band also tours Ireland and the United Kingdom. Their most recent overseas tour was in 2017.
Bluegrass In Schools
In 1984, The Special Consensus initiated the Traditional American Music (TAM) Program, in which they introduce students and teachers to bluegrass in schools across the country. Cahill estimates TAM has reached approximately one million children.
Special Consensus has also been involved with IBMA's Bluegrass In The Schools (BGIS) program. Cahill has been chairman of the BGIS Committee. He and his wife Jackie wrote a BGIS Implementation manual. In addition, Special Consensus provided the instrumentation for a Discover Bluegrass DVD.
Alumni of the Special Consensus include:
- Keith Baumann - mandolin
- Dustin Benson - vocals, guitar
- Bobby Burns - vocals, guitar
- Justin Carbone - vocals, guitar
- Drew Carson - mandolin
- Jamie Clifton - vocals, guitar
- Mitch Corbin - guitar
- Timmy Dishman - vocals
- Marc Edelstein - bass
- Ashby Frank - vocals, mandolin
- Robbie Fulks - vocals, guitar (1988-1990)
- Jim Hale - fiddle
- Aubrey Haynie - fiddle
- Jim Iberg - guitar
- Chris Jones - vocals, guitar (1981-1985)
- Paul Kramer - mandolin
- Colby Maddox - vocals, mandolin
- Martin Marrone - vocals, guitar
- Al Murphy - fiddle (1990-1991)
- Diana Phillips - vocals, bass
- Jeremy Raven - mandolin
- John Rice - guitar
- Andrea Roberts - vocals, bass
- Ryan Roberts - vocals, guitar (2009-2011)
- Scotty Salak - vocals, bass
- Ron Spears - vocals, mandolin (2004-07)
- Don Stiernberg - vocals, mandolin
- David Thomas - vocals, bass
- Ed Walsh - guitar, vocals
- Chris Walz - vocals, guitar
- Dallas Wayne - vocals, bass (1989-1991)
- Mark Weiss - mandolin
- Dennis White - vocals, guitar
- Darren Wilcox - bass, vocals
- Josh Williams - vocals, mandolin (1999-2004)
- Tim Wilson - vocals, mandolin
- 1979: Special Consensus Bluegrass Band (Tin Ear)
- 1983: Blue Northerns (Acoustic Revival)
- 1986: Freight Train Boogie (Turquoise)
- 1989: A Hole in My Heart (Turquoise)
- 1990: Hey Y'All (Turquoise)
- 1993: Green Rolling Hills (Turquoise)
- 1996: Strong Enough to Bend (Pinecastle)
- 1998: Our Little Town (Pinecastle)
- 2000: 25th Anniversary CD, DVD (Pinecastle)
- 2002: Route 10 (Pinecastle)
- 2005: Everything's Alright (Pinecastle)
- 2007: The Trail of Aching Hearts (Pinecastle)
- 2008: Signs (Pinecastle)
- 2010: 35 (Compass)
- 2012: Scratch Gravel Road (Compass)
- 2014: Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute To John Denver (Compass) as Special Consensus & Friends
- 2016: Long I Ride (Compass)
- 2018: Rivers and Roads (Compass)
As primary artist/contributor
- 2001: various artists - In Memory of a Friend: A Tribute to Randall Hylton (Pinecastle) - track 5, "Thirty-Two Acres of Bottom Land"
- 2003: various artists - Blue Ridge Mountain Gospel, Vol. 3 (Pinecastle) - track 8, "When the Walls Come Tumblin' Down"; track 13, "Come Unto Me"
- 2003: various artists - Americana Gospel Series, Vol. 1 (Pinecastle) - track 2-09, "New Jerusalem"
- 2003: various artists - Pinecastle Christmas Gathering (Pinecastle) - track 16, "Go Tell It on the Mountain"
- 2007: various artists - Folksongs Of Illinois #1 (Illinois Humanities Council) - track 1, "Nine Pound Hammer"
- 2008: various artists Bluegrass Jamboree DVD (Pinecastle) - track 12, "Silver Dew on the Bluegrass Tonight"; track 13, "Listening to the Rain"; track 14, "Irish Medley"
- 2013: various artists - Roanoke: The Music of Bill Monroe (Pinecastle) - track 6, "Strawberry Point"
- Thanki, Juli (March 5, 2015). "Special Consensus celebrates 40 years, to play Station Inn". The Tennesean. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- Royko, David (May 4, 2000). "Remarkably, After 25 Years, The Band Plays On". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- uncredited (July 12, 1991). "Special Consensus". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- Cardwell, Nancy (October 1, 2015). "Greg Cahill & the Special Consensus: Forty Years and Rolling". Bluegrass Unlimited. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- Thompson, Richard (January 9, 2017). "Special Consensus ready for Europe". Bluegrass Today. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- Teplyske, Donald (March 17, 2013). "The Story Behind...The Special Consensus". Fervor Coulee. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
- Lawless, John (November 22, 2016). "Special C's side trip to Louisville". Bluegrass Today. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- Stuart, Chris (November 1, 2010). "Greg Cahill – Consensus Builder". Bluegrass Unlimited. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
- Weisberger, Jon (October 31, 1998). "Special Consensus - Our Little Town". No Depression. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- Jonathan Colcord. "Special Consensus: 25th Anniversary". Country Standard Time. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- Foley, Michael (July 10, 2010). "CD Review: 35 by Special Consensus". Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- McGee, David (May 1, 2012). "Some Kind of Moment". The Bluegrass Special. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- Steinberg, David (February 28, 2014). "A tribute to a country boy: The Special Consensus' latest effort honors John Denver". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- Lawless, John (May 25, 2016). "Long I Ride from Special C". Bluegrass Today. Retrieved July 12, 2017.