Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Live Review - 11/17/2010 Crooked Still at Passim

OK, I just reviewed Crooked Still Live, so it seems a little silly to go review Crooked Still, live. Also, Second Cousin Curley just wrote a great preview of the show that covers a lot of the bases with respect to the Boston-based quintet and their sound. Still, I couldn't help but add a few observations, since I was close enough that I actually felt like I was staring at them creepily as I watch them:
  • Brittany Haas' fiddle has five strings. It was hard to tell what the fifth string did for her (maybe helped her with rhythm vamping?), but it was pretty cool.
  • In that vein, I learned at Grey Fox that Dr. Greg Liszt, banjo man extraordinaire (also the banjo player for the recently-reviewed-here Deadly Gentlemen) not only plays a Scruggs-style three-finger roll, he also plays a four-finger roll at times, with an extra pick on his ring finger. So if you're ever listening to him play an absurd number of notes per second, that's one of his secrets.
  • While we're on Dr. Liszt, I also saw him throw some slide banjo on there in Rolling Stones cover "You Got the Silver," drop some banjo harmonics in, and use his tuners to alter sound partway through a song. What an inventive player!
  • Seeing them live really gave me an appreciation for what Tristan Clarridge's cello adds to the rhythm section. Crooked Still plays without a mandolin, but Clarridge gets such a sharp chop out of the cello that the bluegrass back beat is still very much present in their music.
  • Double-bassist Corey DiMario is the unsung hero of the group, whether it's just thumping the beat (sometimes in very slow tunes where it seems impossible to keep the time), throwing some bass runs in there, bowing a few notes, or providing a little levity with hockey jokes.
  • And the only one I haven't mentioned yet, Aoife O'Donovan, has the best voice ever.
  • It's worth mentioning that the show was at Passim, formerly Club Passim, formerly Club 47. I was reading up a bit on the history of the club earlier today; it really is an important institution in the Boston / Cambridge folk / roots music scene. It's cramped, tiny, and the only serve vegetarian food, but you get to see artists really up close in personal in a way you can't anywhere else in a setting where great musicians have played for years.

Crooked Still official site
Passim official site

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