Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Joy of Crooked Still

If you have not experienced Crooked Still live, this coming Wednesday's show at The Cedar should not be missed. Forget about whatever preconceptions you might have about "bluegrass" music and prepare to be wowed.

It would probably be enough that these are four tremendous players and an extraordinary singer. But sometimes there's just an alchemy with ensemble playing, and this band has that in spades. And that singer is really more than extraordinary... Aoife O'Donovan has one of those voices that soothes like a magic balm. I'm a sucker for lovely, clear-toned female voices fronting high-octane playing, especially when it is acoustic instruments that seem to generate their own electricity. That's what Crooked Still does.

My first encounter with them was in 2006 at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, when they were asked at the last minute to fill-in for a "tweener" performer that had canceled. "Tweeners" are 2-3 song sets by a smaller, acoustic act on the side of the stage while the mainstage is being changed for the next act. Their short set won over the crowd so much that within the next hour all 250 CDs they had brought to the festival were sold!

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Due to a denial of their visas, the Ethiopian singer Minyeshu and her band have had to cancel their U.S. tour, and thus their scheduled 9/26 appearance at the Global Roots Festival, where they were going to open for the legendary Os Mutantes. It may be too late to find a suitable replacement, so we are preparing a 30-minute music video presentation featuring other international performers scheduled for The Cedar's new season. More about the absurd visa process in a future blog...

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Finally, my YouTube moment of the week. For those of us that lived through MTV in the 80's and the rise of the over-produced over-blown rock video, there is this little piece of genius (stick with it, it just keeps getting better):

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