LIVE: Old Salt Union / Twisted Pine @ Caffe Lena, 1/29/17
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
On a cold, late January night in Saratoga Springs, Caffe Lena was filled with the sparks of musical creativity and instrumental intensity. The large audience was glued to two bands as they ignited a bluegrass/country/jazz/folk fire that lasted from the first to the last song.
Boston-based Twisted Pine set the bar high with their impressive opening set. Even some of the guys from the headlining band, Old Salt Union, left their dressing room to take a peek at them and listen from the back of the room.
Guitarist Rachel Summer and fiddler Kathleen Parks are Twisted Pine’s primary vocalists, but mandolinist Dan Bui and bassist Chris Sartori often chimed into the mix creating passionate four-part harmonies that energized the song’s instrumental lines. It’s no wonder this remarkable group walked away as winners of the 2014 Band Award at the FreshGrass Bluegrass and Roots Music Festival.
Not to be outdone, Belleville, Illinois’ five-piece bluegrass juggernaut, Old Salt Union, exploded onto Caffe Lena’s stage with a burning set filled with amazing instrumental and vocal interplay.
The band borrowed from a wide-spectrum of American musical styles and payed tribute to many of their musical heroes. It was almost as if bluegrass pioneers Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs and John Hartford had joined jazz giants John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Milt Hinton onstage to jam with country greats Roy Clark and Johnny Cash. In other words, Old Salt Union is a young band that’s full of old souls.
And, oh boy, can they jam!