Our friend Richard Hawkins over at The Bluegrass Ireland Blog is reporting that Crooked Still, the innovative Boston-based string band, is heading back to Ireland for a follow-up tour later this month. They made quite an impact when they visited last year, and have ten dates set for this tour between September 22 and October 1.
The band consists of vocalist Aofie O’Donovan, cellist Rushad Eggleston, banjo player Gregory Liszt and upright bassist Corey DiMario. Their material and approach draw heavily on traditional string music, but the composition of the group (sans guitar and mandolin) gives the ensemble sound a fresh appeal. Each member is a talented performer in their own right, but Eggleston and Liszt bear special mention for what they have done to advance their instruments, and how they are used in music based on traditional bluegrass and old time styles.
Eggleston has introduced the cello as a solo instrument in the traditional string band environment, and has become something of a sensation in the cello world, both for having done so, and for the skill with which he wields the bow. He has the distinction of being the first student in the history of the prestigious Berklee College Of Music to receive a full, four year, all-expenses-paid scholarship to the school in the string department.
Liszt has generated similar waves in the banjo world. He has developed a picking style using four fingers rather than the more typical three, and does so on a custom, seven-stringed banjo, well-suited to filling much of the role a guitar might normally handle in a bluegrass band. Liszt was a member of Bruce Sprinsteen’s touring group earlier this year in support of his Songs Of Seeger CD.
There is also a bit of YouTube video on MySpace, which appears to have been shot at a club date. The audio quality is fine, as is the performance, but the imapct of the video image inescapably calls up a hilarious Blues Brothers parallel. If you have doubts about cello as a solo instrument in this setting, by all means watch the video, which also demonstrates why O’Donovan is considered an up-and-coming song stylist in acoustic music.
Find the tour dates on The Bluegrass Ireland Blog.