Growling Old Men
Growling Old Men is a bluegrass and folk trio from Montana. The trio has a contemporary bluegrass sound that is comprised of guitar, upright bass, and mandolin. Montana is rich in bluegrass artists. The lead vocalist does not have the traditional twangy sound often heard in the South. Instrumentally this band rocked. One of the great tenets of bluegrass music is its ability to showcase the talents of the performers. Picking and grinning is an art form and takes real skill and talent to pull off. This is primarily because bluegrass music is not comprised of lots of special effects added to the music to make it what it is. The music is real and grounded in tradition that cannot be pretentious. This was a most enjoyable band to watch. I could sit and listen to bluegrass artists for hours because the talent of bluegrass artists is unbelievable and Growling Old Men is no exception.
Finnegan Ridge is a six-piece Celtic band that brings the rich traditions of Irish heritage alive in their original works. If one did not know better, they would believe they were sitting in an Irish pub or venue listening to the latest band. Irish music is known for its upbeat, happy sound that boasts of flowing melodies that make listeners come alive on the inside. As the band transitioned between pieces it flowed and kept an even-keel tempo. Although the music changed key and tempos throughout the performance, it gave me the impression that it was not stopping anytime soon nor did I want it to. Great performance from Finnegan Ridge. In a world laden with music that is often dictated by society, this was refreshing and different to listen. It was enough to remind me there are other great genres of music in the world.
The Blokes are a folk trio that was founded by Australian, Keith Lawrie. Lawrie carried the vocals on the tunes. His thick Australian accent was very noticeable but added a nice charm and appeal to the music. The harmonica and dobro were nice additions to enhance their overall sound quality. I would have liked to see the band showcase more of its talents, as every song had the same tempo. Lawrie’s monotone sound seemed to remain consistent throughout the performance but never allowed him to deviate from his comfort zone.
Hooligans are a six-member roots rock band from Montana. Their forte is classic ’60’s rock, playing a mix of classic and original tunes. Their performance was upbeat, energetic, and fun to watch and listen to. It was evident that this band enjoys performing together. They rocked every song they played. There appeared to be a real cohesion among the band members to play off each other musically in order to produce their infectious sound. This listening/visual experience was all about the music. As a listener, I got the impression they played to perform for their audience.
Watchcarvers Guild is a folk trio based in Montana. The band’s sound is a mix of contemporary folk infused with hints and traces of ‘60’s folk music. All three performers sang together and had individual solos. They harmonized well and had a real Crosby, Stills, and Nash vibe to their music. Their music is very nostalgic in nature, yet relevant to today’s contemporary folk music scene. It was easy to listen to and very enjoyable.
Liza Hella & Ken Christensen
Liza Hella and Ken Christensen make up a classical piano duo featuring works from some of the world’s greatest composers and pianists. These include Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Bolcom and Infante. Their performance was brilliant and came off as dueling pianos that would give most competing pianists a run for their money. Hella is very animated when she performs which gave me a sense of the music and the rich emotion it embodied. Her movements were very telling and led me to gain clarity and understanding for what unfolded throughout each piece. Christensen held his own and seemed to flow with the music without unleashing the dramatics. The performance of Hella and Christensen demonstrated a unique pairing of two very talented pianists that complimented each other to produce a sound that is second to none.