Below, in the auditorium foyer, volunteers set up. Ticket sales, a raffle of donated items ranging from commercial gift certificates to home baked cakes, snacks sold as a fund raiser by the music education students at the University, and a table where Lou Reid and his band will make themselves available to autograph CDs and just chat with their fans. A booth is set up to give extra attention to a children’s program the Society wants to undertake as well as to publicize RenoFest, a bluegrass festival held in nearby Hartsville, SC, west of Florence in March. Other folks were visiting and chatting. As approached, the crowd, now perhaps 400 people, drifts into the large and very attractive auditorium.
The crowd settles down and
Reid is ably supported by his wife, Christy on bass. She brings a saucy sexiness, a clear voice, and a very solid bass beat to this band, while ably inserting her bright personality. Playing banjo in a mando-centric band is often difficult, but Trevor Watson does so quite ably. His solid and unobtrusive backup couples with strong, short breaks and good harmony work in the quartets. Kevin Richardson plays rhythm guitar as well as contributing wonderful flat picking solos. His rendition of “Freeborn Man” is one of the highlights of the concert. Finally, Brian Batten on the Dobro adds depth and complexity to this band’s work. As the youngest member of the band, he adds significantly to its performance. The band plays music from Reid’s albums, including his big hit “Time” with depth and feeling. They include a solid mix of traditional bluegrass repertoire as well as newer and more progressive sounds. This band is truly excellent. Reid’s singing, whether on Seldom Scene’s great “Wait a Minute” or his own hit is plaintive and clean. The band’s rendition of “Long Black Veil” allows for heartbreak and morbid humor in the same song.
A regional band called The Hager Mountain Band played a solid cover set in the interval between Reid’s two sets. The audience warmed to this newly formed band and enthusiastically called them back for an encore. Playing a set between Reid’s two sets would be a challenge for any band, and these boys worked hard to meet the standard.
Rivertown Bluegrass Society has raised the bar for itself and met its goal well. The audience was larger than the one they usually draw and they greeted the bands with enthusiasm. The music was wonderful, the jamming fun for both players and listeners, and the evening a success.