Just got back from Cadillac Sky’s first show in St. Louis, where they performed for 2+ hours, non-stop, at the Lucas School House, a nice listening room-type venue. This was the first appearance for the group with their new guitarist, David Mayfield. He, and they, hit a home run. CadSky watchers know that the band’s form of progressive bluegrass isn’t everyone’s cup of tea–but when they’re “on” their game, they’re as good as anyone in bluegrass, traditional or otherwise. They’ve chosen the “otherwise” path, of course, more often than not, and folks’ll debate the merits of that choice; but few could debate, tonight, on the quality and amazing talents of Dave Mayfield. He fit right in, musically and energy-wise. As observers know, the group’s past guitarist also played markedly well, but was older than his CS companions. New member Mayfield is a better fit, chronologically…although appearances are the least important thing, of course. Speaking of which, someone left the group a funny note commenting, good-naturedly, on Mayfield’s appearance, describing him as looking like a stocky shrunken bin Laden, with glasses, who learned to play the guitar in an all-out bluegrass-jihad-style.
The group still needs to avoid their frequent obsession with sound checks, re-tuning, and instructions to the sound man, as these behaviors distract from the flow of the show, add little to the quality of the music (most audience members won’t/can’t appreciate the generally tiny changes accomplished via the constant tinkering), and the recurring practice simply makes the group appear like they play more to satisfy themselves rather than the paying customers. CS has every right to take that approach, of course, but they stifle their success when they don’t put the audience first (they, of course, can rationalize that their obsessions are a product of a desire to put their audience first, but that’s only a rationalization–no other really successful group distracts the crowd this way to this degree). That said, the boys still tore the place up, musically-speaking, and folks with an appreciation for instrumental prowess will welcome the group’s new guitarist. Best wishes for continued success.
(As an aside, the Springfield, MO-based group, The Hillbenders, opened for CS and put on a terrific show of their own. These guys need–and deserve– exposure!)