Although Crooked Still's material is predominantly traditional, the quintet's potent arrangements are so ingenious, so fresh, and played with such virtuosic vitality that the line between roots and progressive essentially vanishes. Crooked Still's lineage is essentially bluegrass/string band, but the group's stylish incorporation of jazz, old-time country, blues, classical, and gospel elements is so wonderfully adept that the addition of any alt tag hardly does it justice. Chamber grass may come closest to the mark. Aoife O'Donovan's crystalline hot-ice vocals get most of the attention. But the fine interplay of banjo, fiddle, cello, and double bass is the exquisite heart of Crooked Still's music. Their latest, Some Strange Country (Signature Sounds), is packed with treasures, concluding with a striking version of that trad country Rolling Stones nugget "You Got the Silver." Opening will be Sam Amidon, a singer and multi-instrumentalist from Vermont who also vividly re-imagines traditional material from Appalachia, the Georgia Sea Islands, and even R. Kelly.
Sat., Sept. 11, 7 p.m., 2010
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