Chris and Michael in Charlottesville

On the road supporting their just released debut album Sleep With One Eye Open, Chris Thile and Michael Daves rolled into Charlottesville last night and set The Southern Cafe and Music Hall’s stage on fire.

Playing to a standing room only crowd (which included talent from many of Central Virginia’s Bluegrass and Americana acts, including what looked like most, if not all, of the Infamous Stringdusters) Chris and Michael unfurled tune after roaring tune from their release.

Bluegrass Today has already detailed the history behind their partnership, but until you see them together, neck to neck, leading and following, twisting and turning their way through their interpretations, the significance of their union isn’t truly appreciated. It’s as if they pick each song up, spin it like a top and dare you to follow.

In a pre-show broadcast on local radio, Chris warned that they had a few tricks up their sleeves. Pointing to his watch mid way through the first act he announced “Guess what time it is?  That’s right!  It’s fiddle tune request time.” The crowd obliged, shouting out suggestions. Chris had to narrow the parameters a bit “Songs with words or songs I’ve written are disqualified!” Finally settling on a suggestion they liked, with knowing looks they tore into Cuckoo’s Nest. Later in the show, it was time for another fiddle tune request and this time the pair lit up the crowd with Soldiers Joy into Cherokee Shuffle.

I’m honestly not sure who had more fun. What they are doing so completely surpasses ‘just playing music. They are having a melodic conversation, at times heated and fiery at other times sweet but somehow always playful. I felt like I was getting away with something, somehow, eavesdropping on their brilliant and inspired harmonic discourse.

While the album’s title is taken from one of its tracks, it is also good advice for fans. Sleeping with one eye open is the only way you’re going to be able to keep up with this dynamic duo.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Diane and Milo Farineau will be covering DelFest 2011 for Bluegrass Today, May 26-19. We’ll have photos and reports each day from their vantage point on site.

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About the Author

Diane Farineau

Diane Farineau, her husband, photographer, Milo and their friend, photographer, Chester Simpson, hatched a brilliant plan last year to write a book about music festivals. Somewhere along the way The Festival Project, as it has now become, turned into a website and a blog and an amazing journey into the world of today's bluegrass and Americana artists and festival scene. When not listening to or writing about music, Diane has a day job as a hospital administrator, is a mom of two musical teenagers, and writes about life's never ending stream of ironies.