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Pomfret, CT, United States
I use this blog to maintain and promote bluegrass and to showcase artists and festivals.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Bluegrass at the Grange

Hot chili, cornbread, and hot bluegrass are served up on the third Saturday of the month at the Killingly Grange in Connecticut. Two bands are usually featured each month. On this occasion, the house band, "Nick Anderson and Shady Creek", followed the guest band named, "Dan Helman and Marking Time." I’ll talk about Dan first.
This band hails from Massachusetts with members from different parts of the state, this must make rehearsing a difficult chore, but it didn’t hurt their performance one bit. They’re all fine musicians. The lead singers are Dan (guitar) and his girlfriend Mary Ann Donzes (fiddle) capably switching roles at lead and harmony. They play a blend of bluegrass and early country with some gospel thrown in. They have good stage presence and are loose enough to be able to tease each other much like Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash did in their concerts. I think the audience really enjoyed that facet of their performance. The sidemen, James Butrym on mando, Peter Fein on banjo, and the famous Dave Helman (producer of the " Country Corner Concerts " series in South Hadley, Mass.) on bass contribute greatly to the success of this band.
We were afforded a treat when Dan invited his young daughter up on stage to do a few songs accompanying herself on a fiddle. She dressed for the part in a pretty cowgirl outfit and did a fine job. Imagine how nervous she must have been in front of a full house.
Dan and his band Marking Time will be showcased at the upcoming Joe Val Festival in Framingham, Massachusetts. February 15 to 17.

The house band is local favorite, "Nick Anderson and Shady Creek." Anderson’s band has undergone a change recently which I think has ratcheted it up considerably. The newcomer to the band, Monty McClanahan has an impressive bio consisting of songwriting and singing and his harmony, sung over the melody line of Anderson brings a whole new sound to the band. This new sound I think is the best ever for Shady Creek and will open up new opportunities for them I’m sure. A large part of this sound comes from the brilliant banjo picking of Marc Schleicher who broke loose with some terrifically fast, rhythmically on the mark solos during the set. Also superb was the fiddleing by Chris Heinzmann and the always solid base playing by Roger Diebel.
This was an exciting night of bluegrass for me and the full house in attendance.

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