Strings'll be the thing at this annual two-day assembly of pickers and fiddlers intent on chasing the bleak midwinter with fiery forays into vintage folk, country, and grasses blue and new. Hosts Pert Near Sandstone are still riding high on the recent release of their fifth album, Paradise Hop, which finds the Pert boys musing on such contemporary issues as the regenerative wonders of caffeine and the 35-W bridge collapse via their trademark new old-timey perspective. Pert Near's guest Friday will be Colorado's Head for the Hills, a maverick string quartet that pairs traditional bluegrass with jazz-tinged improvisation. H4TH's eponymous 2009 album sports the klezmer-riddled "Chupchik," the progressive rock-patterned epic "Nooks and Crannies" (featuring an heroic electric Mandoblaster solo), and a striking bluegrass arrangement of the R&B nugget "Unchain My Heart." Up first on Saturday will be Chicago's Henhouse Prowlers, who also peck at modern concerns in their original lyrics while rooted to Bill Monroe's acoustic tradition. Actually, the Prowlers have a prominent Flatt & Scruggs aura, thanks to Ben Wright's use of Earl Scruggs's three-finger roll technique on banjo. Their vocal harmonies, meanwhile, are firmly rooted in the Kentucky turf, while sometimes cultivating a modern, edgy irony on their latest, Verses, Chapters, Rhymes.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7 p.m. Starts: Jan. 27. Continues through Jan. 28, 2012