Like many fans of the Seldom Scene, Bengt Adielsson’s memories of the band span the decades. But few take their adoration of the long-running act as far as Adielsson has, and even fewer have been rewarded with a stint on stage.
Adielsson was a surprise star of the Scene’s Sunday afternoon show in Gaithersburg, MD, playing and singing From This Moment On with the bluegrass legends during a free show during the community’s annual festival.
His story started out normally enough. He bought his first Seldom Scene album years ago, and saw them once in the early days when the band played regularly at Washington’s now-defunct Red Fox Inn. Then, in 1999, he spent weeks building his first mandolin, modeled after the late John Duffey’s “Duck” mandolin. The instrument is aptly named. It is, indeed, an odd duck.
He met the band before the show, after an email he sent a while back captured the attention of members, and sang well enough with them back stage that he was invited to sing and pick with them during the concert.
Adielsson is no stranger to bluegrass. He perfoms in two Swedish bands, High on Grass and with his wife Florence in Florence and the Nightengales. And he’s clearly no stranger to stages. He sang and played with authority and directed the instrumental breaks like a pro.
He called the performance one of the biggest thrills of his life. Shortly after leaving the stage he lucked into another thrill. He met Akira Otsuka, a friend of Duffey’s who lives in Gaithersburg and owns the second of two Duck mandolins that Duffey built before his untimely death nearly 20 years ago. The pair chatted like old friends.
When Adielsson returns home, he’ll have a terrific story to tell, the kind of story that can only happen in bluegrass, where artists are so approachable. He’ll also be applying a new protective coating to his special mandolin, to protect the signatures of the five band members that were added to the back before he returned it to its fur-covered case.
Here’s Bengt with High On Grass singing a Jimmy Martin classic.