Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Fiddling cello

There was a cellist, a fiddler, a double bassist, a banjo player (banjoist? banjist?), and a singer... Last night Z and I joined a few hundred other folk music enthusiasts who came out on a cold night for a terrific concert by Crooked Still. Several times each year our local impresario Mike Morgan, of "World Music for the Kenai", manages to snag a class act like this for a brief diversion from their nationwide tours to give a concert in our humble community. Last night's audience enthusiastically showed their appreciation for this rare opportunity to hear a top notch performance by this gifted group.

[One anecdote: Corey DiMario, the bassist, commented that the first time he'd ever heard of Soldotna was while listening to NPR's "Car Talk" earlier this year, when a caller from Soldotna phoned in for advice on how to protect his car's engine if our volcano exploded. None of us were surprised to learn that that particular caller was actually present in the audience. So Corey gave him a CD. And yes, as advised he did stretch panty hose over his cars' air intakes - we all did.]

Since we sat in the middle of the audience, rather far back from the stage, even though I could see the four standing performers quite well I wasn't able to watch Tristan Clarridge's terrific performance on his cello. From where I was sitting, I couldn't see his bow arm... but at times he was playing those notes so rapidly, I'm not that sure anyone could have seen it.

Tristan came to Crooked Still a few years ago after one of its founders, cellist Rushad Eggleston, moved on to form his own group, leaving some pretty big shoes to fill. From what I could hear last night, Tristan has more than met the challenge. Tristan's cello and the Brittany Haas's fiddle (also a newcomer to the group) were fully synchronized, and several pieces in the set showcased the cello against the banjo, played by Gregory Liszt.

From the beginning I've tried to imagine being able to play the cello like a fiddler, and last night was the first time I'd actually seen it done. As I struggle along my slow journey, I am newly inspired, no matter how long it takes to get there.

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