Sunday, March 05, 2006

John McEuen at Sydney Bluegrass Society

In town for non reasons (he has an interest in a play about the death and life of John Lennon 'and in the end'), Sydney bluegrass and traditional music fans were treated to some great playing and anecdotes from a seminal person in the genre.

The playing was more traditional American music than bluegrass. He played a medley of 1860's banjo tunes (Cripple Creek, Soldiers Joy, Turkey in the Straw) as they had been played then, rather than the refined bluegrass versions more common today. A lovely anecdote about Merle Travis was followed by a superb 'Cannonball Rag' on guitar.

He joined in with local jammers in the corridors and recognised them by bringing them on stage to join him in renditions on songs from the 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' album, including; 'Way Downtown', 'Wildwood Flower', 'Keep On the Sunnyside' and the title track, with which the audience sang along as one.

I came away from the evening impressed by a warm, generous man who can play the bejesus out of a banjo or guitar. He gave a group of people weaned on 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' everything they wanted, bar bringing Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs and Vassar Clements with him. A wonderfull evening.

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