A near sell-out crowd cheered and brought both bands back to the stage for encores at Saturday night's Boston Bluegrass Union sponsored concert at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA, once a comfortable night-time horseback ride from Boston. The auditorium at the museum seats about 300 people, has unparallelled sight-lines, and features warm, crisp sound. It's an almost perfect venue for BBU to hold its winter concert season, which usually is comprised of four concerts.
It's something of a mistake on my part to feature one performer so prominently here. The band is a strongly cooperative effort featuring excellent musicians at every position. Kimber Ludiker is poised to emerge to national prominence as a fiddle player, a worthwhile thought for IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year in 2012, well deserving nomination. Jenny Lyn Gardner on mandolin brings excellent work on her instrument and a good voice to emphasize the band's continuing commitment to bluegrass. Amanda Kowalski on bass reminds us of nothing less than Missy Raines in her energy, her diverse sound, and her use of the full range of instrument. Courtney Hartmann, the newest member of the band, on guitar and harmony vocals, is a whizz of a flat-picker while still a student at Berklee College of Music. Among other things, her appearance in the band further burnishes Berklee's place as one that nurtures young talent and has contributed mightily to the national bluegrass scene in recent years. This band is one you should request that your local promoter book. Get 'em while you can afford 'em. They're filled with energy, musical versatility, strength at every position, and ever-increasing maturity. Their performance at Lexington as an opening band garnered a standing ovation and an encore. No small feat for an opening band.