The lovely Erica Brown and her band, Bluegrass Connection,
played two sets at One Longfellow Square. I could feel the love coming from the packed house of
bluegrass fans, as well as from music students and their families in
attendance. Erica and two of her band-mates, Steve Roy and Matt Shipman, teach
music lessons at The 317 Main Community Music Center in Yarmouth.
Erica is a very pretty young lady, and she looked feminine
and gorgeous in her black boots and black sparkly sweater. She had a calm,
sweet demeanor, and was poised and confident. She’s got that “Alison Krauss”
thing going on – a good voice, while also being an excellent fiddle player.
The band had a very cohesive feel. You could tell they’ve
been playing together for years. Ken Taylor played standup bass. He was very
animated and playful, traveling around the stage behind the others. The
steady-looking Read McNamara kept the five-string banjo going in a dependable,
unfettered way. Dexterous guitar man, Matt Shipman, and the dazzling Steve Roy
on the mandolin, flanked Erica on either side. After numerous trips to the edge
of the stage, tuning with his back to us, Steve said, “Mandolin is Italian for,
‘out of tune.’” The harmonies were
wonderful and everyone got a chance to sing lead at least once. Steve Roy had
his fiddle debut too and did a dang, fine job!
Great moments included a hot-damn little instrumental
called, “Christy Lynn”. Afterwards, Matt quipped, “That’s a sawdust kicker!”
Other highlights were the pretty instrumental, “Martin’s Waltz”; the Gillian
Welch song, “One More Dollar”; “Big City Blues”, by Matt Shipman; Emmylou
Harris’s, “Roses in the Snow”; “Walking down the Line”, by Bob Dylan; and the
delightful, “Gone”, by John Hiatt.
Erica introduced her band-mates warmly and clearly. At
many concerts introductions are garbled, but not here! There were jokes too! “The band is paid weekly. Very
weakly.” Regarding another anecdote, someone in the audience called out, “Don’t
let the truth come between you and a good story!”
Erica has been an award-winning violinist since childhood,
specializing in the French-Canadian style. If you go to her website, ericabrownonline.com, you can see pictures of her as a youngster playing
fiddle for Allison Krauss in her tour trailer, and posing with Mark O’Connor at
his fiddle camp – which kinda dates Allison and Mark, but oh, well! Erica and
her fellow musicians are clearly on a course for first-rate music making for
the rest of their lives. It was a joy to be there!
Also, here's a previous column featuring Erica and Matt: Ron Cody, Erica Brown, Matt Shipman Deliver Sheer Joy.
Photo by Amanda Kowalski
For music lovers visiting Portland, Maine, I highly recommend
One Longfellow Square ~ "Portland's Premier Arts Venue"
Check them out at onelongfellowsquare.com.