Piriformis is a nasty little muscle nestled on your butt and lieing right next to the sciatic nerve. When it gets inflamed, it seems to grab the sciatic nerve, not willing to let go, and sends piercing pain down your leg. My sweet old piriformis has been quiescent for several years, but decided to act up two weeks ago. With exercise, I managed to quiet it down, and had no pain during MACC. A couple of days before leaving for Podunk it started to act up again, and by Thursday afternoon I could barely walk. It was, nevertheless, quite painful, and I’m sure that people watching me gimp around and have difficulty walking a straight line were certain I was drunk. Meanwhile, there was a starry, warm evening, a reasonably sized Thursday crowd, and great music. Pure bluegrass fans might quibble that there was precious little bluegrass on Thursday night, but a fair appraisal would argue that the music was varied, tuneful, attractive to watch, and thoroughly engaging.
The Lovell Sisters
It has been truly delightful to watch the progress of this group as they progressive in the music world. They've moved from being pretty kids to impressing audiences as accomplished and distinctive musicians playing lots of their own music with verve and energy. They are now established in major venues and taking advantage of it by playing music that appeals way beyond just bluegrass fans.
If memory serves me right, I think we first saw Bearfoot at Palatka Bluegrass Festival in a showcase. At that time they were a pleasant young group whose major appeal was that they came all the way from Alaska. Four or five years later, they've morphed themselves into a contemporary Americana group with the addition of Odessa Jorgenson, formerly of the Biscuit Burners. They have a crowd pleasing sound with a tendancy for songs to sound a bit too much alike for my taste. The guest appearance by Chris Pandolfi of the Infamous Stringdusters on banjo added much needed drive and lilt to this band's performance.
This Chicago based bluegrass band has been traveling for over 30 years under the leadership of Greg Cahill, currently serving as President of IBMA as well. Special C is a particularly apt bluegrass band to perform on a night devoted to seemingly more modern and progressive bands. Each member of the band is a virtuoso in his own right. They fit comfortably within any definition of bluegrass while purveying a range of musical style and sound from early Monroe to contemporary pop-rock, all sounding grassy enough for anyone. This band never seems stuck in any era.
Like many musicians who cut their chops in bluegrass, Alison Brown has found the form to be confining and spread her wings into much more varied forms of music. Currently she is touring in support of her new jazz CD "Stolen Moments" with her quartet augmented by (regular) special guest Joe Craven. Brown, twice IBMA banjo player of the year, appears now to have given herself completely over to a very accessible jazz sound which never ceases to please. She plays a magic banjo filled with lilting sounds and never falling into cliched licks. The rest of the band complements her playing perfectly as well as each contributing his own special brand of excitement. Craven, who spent many years with David Grisman along with other stellar bands, excels on fiddle and mando as well as finding interesting and exciting ways to turn his body and anything that vibrates into a sound producer. His comedy adds variety and interest to an already highly entertaining mix. Larry Atamnuik on drums (yes, drums!!) is a wonder of taste and rhythm. John R. Burr on keyboards is a delight. Gary West, who is also Alison's husband and partner in Compass Records, is fine on bass.
All in all, Thursday night was a great way to start a major bluegrass music festival designed to appeal to a broad range of music fans who take an eclectic approach to enjoying their music.