Saturday, August 11, 2007

Since my blog has "and some bluegrass" in the sub-title, I should probably post occasionally about the concerts I see. Last night was a triple bill at the Freight and Salvage.

The first band up was Berkeley's own Bluegrass Revolution.
This band isn't my cup of tea - theie set could only be loosely categorized as bluegrass but that wasn't the real problem. It seemed like the whole band was playing as hard as they could 100% of the time. Not only does that get boring after a song or two, it doesn't actually sound that good. One of the secrets of bluegrass and acoustic swing is that to play fast and intense sounding music well, the musician actually has to be very relaxed and in control. Bluegrass Revolution is a pretty new band and I think they will get somewhat better with time but I also think they need to step back, listen to themselves and think about what they are trying to do.

On the other hand, the second band Belle Monroe and Her Brewgrass Boys, clearly knows what they are trying to do and they do a good job. Their repertoire was mostly unfamiliar to me - no bluegrass standards that I had heard of and a lot of original songs - but their execution was quite good and they have a very nice band dynamic. I liked their set quite a bit.

The headlines were Mighty Crows. I might be biased since I've known all of them for years and I jam with some of them regularly but I think the audiences agree that they are one of the best of the local bluegrass bands, particularly if you are looking for traditional bluegrass. They focus on singing pieces to take advantage of their powerhouse vocals but do a few nice instrumentals that show off the fiddler as well. If you like traditional bluegrass in the SF Bay Area, look for them at some local venues and local festivals.

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