My wife and I went to a concert last month at the Birchmere to see Chatham County Line and Crooked Still, two of our favorite young bluegrass bands. A third band we were not already familiar with, The Infamous Stringdusters, also performed.
The Birchmere is a great place to listen to a band; however, I would like the venue even more if they could reduce their food and beer prices.
Chatham County Line
I previously published a favorable review of Chatham County Line (CCL) so I will not go into a much detail here except to say that they again put on an excellent show. The bassist, Greg Readling, was rock solid, as was lead singer/guitarist Dave Wilson. Mandolin player John Teer is one of the best harmony singers I’ve ever heard. Banjo player Chandler Holt again picked a solid banjo and I also enjoyed hearing him sing lead on an amusing original song entitled Whipping Boy.
The Infamous Stringdusters
The Infamous Stringdusters are a large bluegrass band featuring all of the traditional bluegrass instruments (guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and bass) plus dobro. Based on applause from the crowd, many people obviously enjoyed their portion of the show. The Infamous Stringdusters are certainly talented individuals, skillfully playing their instruments and singing on pitch. However, I personally did not care for their contemporary jamgrass style.
Crooked Still is an alternative bluegrass band, playing without a guitar and adding a cello. The band has recently undergone some changes, after cellist Rushad Eggleston decided to leave the band. I’m glad they decided to bring cellist Tristan Clarridge on board as the cello is a key part of Crooked Still’s hallmark sound and Clarridge can play quite well. Another new member of the band is Brittany Haas who is an excellent fiddle player. The fiddle really adds a lot to the band’s sound and that was another great decision.
Aoife O’Donovan continues to provide strong and beautiful vocals live just as she does on the albums. Corey DiMario remains doing a fine job on bass, as does banjo player Dr. Gregory Liszt.
Banjo player Dr. Gregory Liszt is certainly a fast picker, sometimes using a four-finger style. Given my preference for a generous portion of Scruggs-style licks, at first I thought Liszt’s style might be too modern for my taste. However, I found that a lot of his solos really worked quite well with the band’s sound. My only criticism would be that his dancing and head moves could sometimes be a bit distracting.
For highly recommended Chatham County Line and Crooked Still tracks, click here.