Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Live Review - 11/23/2010 Jerks of Grass and The Lowbrow Boyz at Cantab

It's been too long since my last visit to the Cantab Lounge, which has the premier weekly bluegrass showcase in the Boston area every Tuesday night. Last night I made it out to see The Low Brow Boys and Jerks of Grass.

The Low Brow Boys are a trio of Dans playing old-time style music. Dan Spurr plays clawhammer-style on the open back banjo, Dan Fram plays rhythm guitar, and Dan Thompson gets a workout on the fiddle. I mean he gets a workout; in their hour-long set, he only stopped playing fiddle during two songs. The group had a lot of energy, tapping their feet in time as they played. They played a mix of traditional songs (including favorite "Sitting On Top of the World") and originals in that vein. It was an entertaining opening act; I might check them out again but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to do so.

I reviewed the new CD by Jerks of Grass just a few months ago, and that review still stands up as a summary of their music, but I wanted to emphasize again how talented the quartet are as musicians. Fiddler Melissa Bragdon makes it look incredibly easy and never hits a wrong note. Bassist Kris Day plays some of the best bass solos I've ever heard, even on fast banjo tunes like "Foggy Mountain Special." Jason Phelps is one of the fastest guitar flatpickers I've seen and plays a fine mandolin as well. And utility man Carter Logan plays banjo and dobro with equal aplomb, and even threw in some fine bluesy guitar licks on "Deep River Blues." They stuck pretty much to the uptempo numbers and had great energy; the crowd was really into it. They're one of my favorite local bluegrass / roots bands and I'm definitely keeping an eye on them going forward.

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