Thursday, April 2, 2009

my type of march madness......

Being the music lover that I am, this past March was a highlight that would be hard to top! Mike Marshall and Darol Anger rank in my musical book at the very top echelon, joined only by a few....Sam Bush, Richard Thompson, Doc Watson, to name the few. It's been frustrating at times, confusing to me as to why certain festivals have passed on booking them in the last couple of years; in my fantasy mind they'd be playing at EVERY festival that I'm going to...>g< But this past month helped to make up for this confusion, as I was treated to one amazing show after another.

It started off in Minneapolis on March 6, which happens to be my twin daughters' birthday and it's not the first time that I have celebrated their birthday with a super concert. Mike and his Big Trio played the Cedar Cultural Center, along with classical mandolinist Caterina Lichtenberg and accompianist Mirko Shrader. This duo hails from Germany and were simply amazing..she played a very old small kind of mandolin, using a feather for a pick! She and Mike had met at a mandolin show somewhere and the two of them have become good friends and musical partners. This duo was followed by mandolinist Peter Ostroushko and his accompianist for a quick set. Peter is a legendary Twin Cities musician...he's been entertaining folks in these parts for many years.

And then Mike and his Big trio took the stage and I almost immediately burst into tears....they blew me away damn near as soon as they started. The Big Trio consists of Mike and 16 year old violinist Alex Hargreaves and 22 year old bassist Paul Kowert, who according to Sam Bush would give Edgar Meyer a run for his bassist...
Mike specifically wrote the music for their cd with these two young phenoms in mind; he says in the liner notes that in all the thirty years of him playing with some of the world's top musicians that he'd rank these fellows up with any of them! Quite the statement....

And added bonus to that night was the fact that Lynn and I were able to turn her aunt and uncle onto some new music! David and Ingrid were also blown away...they are classical music fans and this type of new acoustic music fit their tastes well! It was really fun to watch them being awed...>g< The only sad part of that night was that I got no pictures....

Then...on the way down to Florida and the Suwannee Springfest, I was really lucky to be able to catch Darol and his Republic of Strings, at Eddie's Attic, in Atlanta! This is a superb venue...not only do they serve great food and beer and probably wine, but they also remind folks that this is a "listening room" and that everyone should turn off their cell phones and conversations except for those quick "hot damn.."s, or holy shit..."s or some such quick unavoidable comment. As good as Mike's Big Trio show was, Darol's was every bit as good!

His band consisted of Scott Nygaard on guitar, Lauren Lioux on fiddle and Mike Block on cello. (both Lauren and Mike are of that young generation of spectacular musicians that is just bursting at the seams it seems...) After the show I asked Darol about the young phenoms that he and Mike like to find and he smiled broadly and said: "yah, we like the young folks around for the heavy lifting...when a hard part comes around we just nod it off to them....>g<"

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Then it was time for the Suwannee Springfest, where the big anticipation was to see Mike and Darol, along with the Swedish super-group, Vasen. Thanks to Maria, I had heard the collaboration on a cd...so I was excited to hear them live, and there was no disappointment! In fact, elation would be a good term for what I was feeling. I first heard Vasen during a morning "Meet Vasen" set in the Music Hall. They played for about 45 minutes and Mike and Darol joined them for the last 15. This was supposed to be followed by a mandolin seminar with Mike, but he gleefully announced that they all wanted to keep playing, so I and everyone else there was treated to a two hour magnificent mind-blowing concert!

Mike and Darol...

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Vasen....



Olov Johansson and his nykelharpa....



Mike and Darol....



Vasen....

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Mike and Darol....from the Meadow Stage Friday evening

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The whole group...on the Meadow Stage

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The next day the boys graced the Main (Ampitheater) Stage and the results were every bit as spectacular. I relish the Darol/Mike treat that was the month of March!

The coolest cat on the face of the planet...



And I'd especially like to thank my dear friend Maria Camillo, booking agent for Mike and Darol and a host of other fine musicians, for making this past month of musical magic possible! Let's do this again, soon, my friend....


Peace, David

2 comments:

David Gans said...

I had been hearing about Vasen from a musician friend for years, but never saw them til this SpringFest. Like Dave, I was blown away! Wonderful music, and the sound of that nykelharpa is like nothing else. I bought a CD/DVD called "Live in Japan" at the SpringFest merch table.

Jon Beers said...

Dave,

Paul Kowert is indeed a talented bass player. He's from Madison, and played quite a few Madison classical gigs when he was younger. The link below has a bio from a 2004 free outdoor concert.

http://www.gialamas.com/PublicDocs/BusinessLinks/Aug2004.pdf

I like his work w/ the Punch Brothers a lot.

Jon