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Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection Shine with Good Fun

Venue: One Longfellow Square, Portland, ME ~ February 1, 2013 ~

Feb 21, 2013
Kimmy Sophia Brown

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.

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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