Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Darol Anger Connection: What Crooked Still Learned from their Elders

You've heard me go on and on about Bruce Molsky in this column before; amazing moments he's performed at the Cedar, how much I respect his cross-cultural jamming, and just as important, what an important teacher he is. He shares his magic not only to his fiddle students, but to the participants at workshops and those who jam with him.

As we find one of Bruce's former students, Brittany Haas, fiddling in the new Crooked Still lineup at the Cedar this Friday, I'd like to give a little background on another huge influence on this band from an older generation, the mighty Darol Anger. [Darol's got his left arm in a cast right now...ouch! read about it...] Although he has collaborated with musicians from all over the world, (and brought a number of these combos to the Cedar over the years) Darol's name is perhaps most often associated with his Republic of Strings project. A think tank for sting players? Maybe more like a germination chamber. Let's let them explain themselves.

What is the Republic Of Strings?


It’s a nation of string musicians and music listeners, tied together by mutual respect and love of music.

Our shared Republic Of Strings’ imaginary borders extend through all geographical or other imaginary borders, and we accept no unsightly cultural boundaries. We revel in variety and seek to deeply understand.

Our band, The Republic Of Strings, chooses string band music and other music that we love, from anywhere in the world, and figures out a way to play it.

Our musical material ranges from Scandinavia down to Africa and Brazil, with stops anywhere from the Appalachian mountains to the far-off isle of Manhattan, Ireland, Chicago, suggestions from our fellow citizens, and our garage.

More inanity, insanity and misgovernance. But hope springs up again. Can music get us through? Not all by itself!

Take a look at the current lineup. Love Darol ginning away as his young collaborators tear it up!

Say, didn't I just see that cello player somewhere? Why yes, Tristan was actually at the Cedar for Nordic Roots 2008, playing with Annbjorg Lien's Waltz with Me project. And there on fiddle is Brittany Haas.

If you're wondering about former Crooked Still cello maniac Rushad Eggleston,[also a Rebulic of Strings alum] he's now in California playing rock cello. Really. Here's what banjo man Greg Liszt had to say about his departure.
When founding member and cellist Rushad Eggleston announced his intention to leave the band. "It wasn't a huge surprise," Liszt says. "That guy played in the folk world for so long and played so many folk shows and had such a huge impact on the whole scene that it kind of made sense to me that he would want to go off and play crazy rock music for a while and just sort of recede from the scene for a little bit.

"He's an envelope pusher, and he is also a very restless personality, which are two things that lead him to develop that cello style, and they are also the same two things that would lead him to move to Los Angles with his actress/model girlfriend and dress up and play crazy rock music on the cello."

Eggleston now plays the California region with his group Tornado Rider performing with a drummer and occasional guitarist melding his cello to riff-based rock 'n' roll songs with a fantasy theme.
Here's a glimpse of his wild stage persona - and stripey clothing stylings!

Here's a vid of his onstage goodbye speech. Good luck out there Rashad!

Maybe the Crooked Still would've found Tristan anyway through his connections with Darol Anger, but Greg also told this story. "The first time I met Tristan was at a bluegrass festival in California, I believe. He had this crazy double cello jam with our old cello player in the middle of the night, which, again, kind of just blew me away," Liszt says.

Read the full text of his interview about their new disc and new band members in Country Standard Time right here.

I thought this was a great tidbit about the recording of Still Crooked. The entire album was recorded "live" in one big room, with everyone playing together. Merrill captured most songs in one or two takes. "I was outside in the hallway, because my voice is so quiet," O'Donovan says. "Recording live, you don't have an option to overdub; that always makes a better album."

Following are a couple of Republic of Strings stories I like that were floating around here and there on the internet. First up, a review from the the Baltimore Fiddle Fair, Baltimore, West Cork, Ireland.
Next up were the wonderful Republic of Strings and their spiritual leader Darol Anger. We're always that bit extra excited when we host Irish Premieres and present someone making their first ever Irish appearance and we were all blown away by this remarkable group. Top class musicians and great craic as well, I'd be pretty confident we'll be seeing more of this Republican Expeditionary Force at future Fiddle Fairs.

Then check this out from deeper within Darol's site. Say, don't these tall guys look familiar to Cedar regulars? There is Darol and collaborator Mike Marshall playing with Vasen!


Darol reports:
Wintergrass, up in Tacoma, was an incredible experience, with the Swedish music heroes VASEN coming all the way out from Stockholm to play with The Duo… Yes, peoples’ lives were changed. That’s the report. Those guys always seem to add 3 or 4 months on to my life when we play together. Unbelievable grooves and air space to take it all in.

Gotta love that kind of respect for fellow musicians! Gotta love the way this amazingly energetic guys passes on his passion and talent to the younger generation!

Thank you Darol and take care of that wrist!

See the rest of you at Crooked Still on Friday!

1 comment:

darol said...

Thanks, folks. 'tis sweet to be remembered.