That’s what I have to say about the concert I saw last night at the Sheldon with Bela Fleck (banjo), Bryan Sutton (guitar) and Casey Driessen (fiddle). AaaAAaAaaaaAAAa!!! It was mind blowing! As a musician, I always pay rapt attention to an instrumentalist’s hands. Anyone who has read former live reviews of mine will know that I have often said that “fingers are flying” etc. But I have never seen the likes of this. Whoa dang!
Bela was the main attraction of course. He’s widely regarded as the best banjo player in the world. It’s funny that just last week when I was home, I was playing some bands for my dad and he said, “I just never thought you would like bluegrass.” I’ve admired it, especially the fiddle and mandolin, for some time, but I didn’t start getting into it until I fell in love with Nickel Creek and Chris Thile. My dad’s biggest objection to bluegrass is the banjo. He says the twangy strings get on his nerves after a while. “It always sounds the same.” Well, I wish my dad could have seen Bela. Good Lord in heaven. He can make the banjo sound ways no one would have ever thought. Did you know he released a whole CD of classical pieces? Bach, Beethoven etc. all on the banjo.
But Bela (pronounced Bayla) wasn’t the only virtuoso on stage. Chris and Bryan delighted me. Chris had on a floral shirt, jeans and bright red plasticky-looking shoes with a swath of gold from the bottom center to the heel. Hilarious. His fiddling was superb. But as a struggling guitarist, I was supremely amazed by Bryan. Wow.
Now onto one other live event. Two weeks ago, I got to see the Avett Brothers perform at Off Broadway. Man, what a treat. They are a young bluegrass trio from North Carolina. Two brothers on the guitar and banjo and a friend on the bass. Cute too! While this also is bluegrass, it’s a different beast. I mean, the guys above are mind-blowers. These young guys are just great performers, fun, talented and so enjoyable. Bela, Chris and Brian are instrumentalists who have mastered their genre. They were shy and uncomfortable speaking, but still very humorous. The Avett trio is not shy. The banjo player liked to shake his bushy head of hair and his brother shuffled his feet in the cutest way while he jammed. This is what some might call new grass. A progression of what our grandparents played for our generation. Same instruments, same ideas, but just given an edge. I had a blast at this concert. I even got my friend Steve to dance a couple tunes with me. I’ve really fallen in love with some of the Avett songs, especially Swept Away on Mignonette. If you like this genre at all, I highly recommend that CD.