CULTURE:The (First Annual) Deadly Gentlemen's Ball
The show was billed as The (First Annual) Deadly Gentlemen's Ball. This show, held at The Sinclair in Cambridge, was hosted by, you guessed it, The Deadly Gentlemen. I knew this was going to be an evening of bluegrass, but I had no idea how much fun it would be!
The first act to perform was Chris Eldridge and Julian Lage who have been touring together for at least six months. Both are fabulous guitarists, albeit known for different styles; Chris is known for bluegrass, Julian for jazz. Together, they are amazing! I think one of the marks of a great musician is the ability to transcend genres and sound as if that had been the way he'd played all his life. I especially loved that they used microphones to amplify their sound rather than electrifying their instruments – very pure, clean sound.
Most of their set was bluegrass, although for the encore they did a tear-inducing version of 'Someone to Watch Over Me.' This showcased Julian's jazz capability, which is enormous. Chris quipped that he was wisely singing and not playing the guitar for that song.
Next up was Joy Kills Sorrow, whose name I knew but nothing else. I loved them, especially Emma Beaton's voice! She sang lead on all the songs they performed with backing vocals by most of the members of the band. The band comprises Emma on vocals, Matthew Arcara on guitar (he's also a luthier), Wes Corbett on banjo, Jacob Jolliff on mandolin, and Zoe Guigueno on bass. I thought all were excellent and all played their hearts out!
Then came The Deadly Gentlemen. In addition to Dr. Greg Liszt there was Mike Barnett on the fiddle, Dominick Leslie on mandolin, Stash Wyslouch on guitar, and Adam Chaffins on the double bass. They had good rapport with the audience, especially Stash who is from Lexington, Massachusetts.
After a short break, the great Peter Rowan took the stage, doing a couple of solo numbers to warm up the crowd. Then he brought Tatiana Hargreaves, an 18 year old fiddle player to the stage with him for another couple of songs before bringing The Deadly Gentlemen back as Peter's backing band.
Peter is a truly great musician. The way he engages his audience seems effortless; sure, he's been performing for about fifty years but it would be evident if he weren't comfortable. His voice, his guitar work, and his songwriting are all fantastic. They played some of his best-known songs, "Panama Red" and "Midnight Moonlight" which had the crowd singing along. He seemed genuinely happy that the crowd reacted so positively to him, almost as if it was an unusual occurrence!