When I started learning to play bluegrass music as a teenager in the mid-1970s, the bluegrass mecca was the Washington, DC area. Seldom Scene and The Country Gentlemen were headquartered there, both considered wildly progressive by the traditionalists of that day.
Lexington, KY was also something of a hotbed in the ’70s, with heretical modernists like JD Crowe & The New South and Newgrass Revival emerging there.
These days, the Boston area is drawing talented young string players with a itch to stretch the boundaries of the music, resulting in an active and fecund environment for new music. The success of Crooked Still has surely fueled this movement, as have the twin academic trends of young players in conservatories trying their hand at acoustic string music, and these same schools seeking out students from the bluegrass and traditional music scenes.
I say all that to say this… Broken Blossoms may be the next Boston-based group to emerge from this primordial goo of new music. I’ve been listening to their debut, self-titled EP/CD and there is some beautiful music there, with great promise of more to come.
This gifted young band is fronted by Jenee Halstead on vocals with Andy Cambria on guitar and vocals, David Goldenberg on mandolin, Kimber Ludiker on fiddle, Simon Chrisman on bass and Charlie Rose on banjo. 3 of the 4 tracks on the EP are originals and the arrangements owe a lot to the sound that Crooked Still has pioneered – female vocals out front, with sparse, semi-orchestrated string band accompaniment.
I asked Cambria if the band is bothered by the obvious comparisons to their fellow Bostonians.
“No, we don’t mind any Crooked Still comparisons ‚Äì we’ll take all the Crooked Still comparisons we can get! Those guys are great friends of ours, so it’d be nearly impossible for their vibe not to rub off a little.”
Here are a couple of audio samples, with more available on the band’s MySpace page.
Preacher – Listen now: [http://media.libsyn.com/media/thegrasscast/preacher.mp3]
Broken Blossoms has been invited to take part in the band competition at DelFest in May, and then at the Podunk Bluegrass Festival in August. Perhaps they won’t be an unknown startup act much longer.