Playing The Pickin' Parlor at Randy Wood Guitars in Bloomingdale is a highlight for members of the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band Special Consensus.

"We've known Randy a long time," says founder Greg Cahill. "We've been there quite a few times and we enjoy it."

That's not all they enjoy.

"One of the high points is the barbecue," Cahill says, referring to Mac's Place right next door.

A four-man acoustic bluegrass band that began performing in the Midwest in the spring of 1975, the Special Consensus released its first album in 1979 when the band began touring on a national basis.

"I'm the only original member," Cahill says. "Our most recent record is our 16th and it was nominated for a Grammy, which was fun."

"Scratch Gravel Road" features songs written by some of Nashville's top songwriters, including Dixie and Tom T. Hall, Tim Stafford and Jon Weisberger, Brink Brinkman and Tony Rackley, Craig Market, Becky Buller and Harley Allen and Herb Ford.

It includes "Monroe's Doctrine," a song about bluegrass great Bill Monroe. The album was nominated for a Grammy as Best Bluegrass Album of 2012.

"We got to go to the awards presentation," Cahill says. "It was such an honor. It boils down to the top five in the genre and to be included as one of the top five was shocking, it was wonderful, we loved it."

Cahill plays banjo and sings baritone and tenor harmony vocals. Born and raised in Chicago, he has been playing bluegrass banjo since the early 1970s.

"Back in the 1960s, folk music was huge," Cahill says. "There was music in our family, but not in any way, shape or form was it bluegrass. I got into folk and played in a folk trio at college.

"One of the guys in that trio came in playing an Earl Scruggs record," Cahill says. "I was already playing banjo, but not in the bluegrass style.

"I said, 'I've got to learn that.' I just started going to festivals. When I was in the Army, I was stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., and there was a lot of folk music there. I got bitten by the bug."

Other band members are mandolinist Rick Faris, bassist David Thomas and guitarist Dustin Benson. All three sing lead, baritone, tenor and high baritone vocals.

Wanting to provide an educational aspect, Cahill started the Traditional American Music Program in schools across the country. "It's fun to watch kids who've never seen a mandolin before," Cahill says.

In November 2003, the band received a standing ovation for its first performance on the Grand Ole Opry at Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium. "It was really special being on that stage," Cahill says.

The band has performed with symphony orchestras and toured internationally to the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Ireland and South America. "We kind of get around," Cahill says.

Why is bluegrass so popular around the world? "I think it's a real honest to goodness roots music," Cahill says.

"You could probably find elements of all traditional music in bluegrass. A lot of musical instruments come from everywhere - from Japan, China. Africa is where the banjo is from.

"Bluegrass has universal appeal," he says. "Thanks to social media, more people hear it now. I've always felt if people could just hear this music, they'd like it. You still don't hear it much on commercial radio, except in commercials, but because of Sirius XM radio, people have access to it."

At The Pickin' Parlor, the Special Consensus will play a varied concert. "We'll probably play a lot of selections from our new recording," Cahill says.

"We'll do a couple of traditional songs and a lot of our own material. It will be traditional music, but with a more modern or current take.

"We don't necessarily talk about going back to the cabin on the hill, but we still sing about lost relationships or great family life," he says. "We have a swing tune or two, a gospel song or two. We'll try to have something for the bluegrass fans to enjoy and if you're not a bluegrass fan, we will turn you around."

The members of Special Consensus are as happy about seeing their fans as the fans are about seeing them. "We really look forward to seeing our friends in Georgia," Cahill says.

"My son was born at Fort Benning, so I have a warm spot in my heart for Georgia," he says. "The people are always so friendly and Randy is a good friend and a great guy."


What: Special Consensus

When: 8 p.m. May 10

Where: The Pickin' Parlor, Randy Wood Guitars, 1304 E. U.S. 80, Bloomingdale

Cost: $20

Info: 912-748-1930,