Story and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Over the last several months the fans of bluegrass music had choices, serious choices, to enjoy top-tier talents playing their music of choice.
Of course, there was the four-day, world-famous, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in our own back yard – to hear the likes of Chris Thile, the Infamous Stringdusters and the Del McCoury Band.
And there were several outstanding bluegrass artists and groups appearing on the headlining bills of various folk music festivals: Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, the Old Songs Festival and the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival.
But some of the best and most intimate settings for presenting the music in all its glory were at small venues throughout the region. And it was the ladies of that musical art form that dished out some of the best bluegrass pickin’ and singin’ anywhere around.
At the beginning of the summer season (May 31), WAMC-FM’s performance hall, The Linda, hosted a spirited evening of down-home music and song featuring five young ladies known as Della Mae. Relatively new on the scene, they have collectively won over audience’s hearts and ears from coast-to-coast with their vocal harmonies and instrumental prowess.
In Lake George’s Shepard Park on July 25, the Lake George Arts Project presented virtuosic acoustic-bassist Missy Raines. She and her seasoned quartet, the New Hip, created a fun-filled evening of stupendous bluegrass music and more. Performing under the stars at the lakeside amphitheater, Raines and company lit up the night with their fiery playing.
Whether wielding mandolin or guitar, petite Sierra Hull has been singing and playing up a bluegrass storm in coffeehouses, concert halls and music festivals throughout the country, garnering national attention from the time she was 12 years old. She rolled into full house of fans at Caffe Lena on July 30 in support of her newest and third release, “Daybreak,” spotlighting her incredible talents as a young adult instrumentalist, songwriter and singer. Barely into her twenties, Hull and her band mates made a kaleidoscopic splash of down-home sounds that Bill Monroe would have been proud of.
And several more ladies of bluegrass are headed into Nippertown this weekend. Banjo fans won’t want to miss the five-string pioneer Alison Brown, one of the featured performers at the FreshGrass Bluegrass Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday (September 22). And on Saturday night, multi-talented bluegrass wunderkind Sarah Jarosz and her band take the stage at Club Helsinki in Hudson.