Mike Sudhalter | April 17, 2007
I've always been a casual fan of bluegrass music, but I'd never attended a bluegrass concert until last Friday.
Honestly, I didn't know what to expect, but I was pretty sure I'd picked a good initial bluegrass show, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, one of the genre's premier acts.
The show was at Black Oak Casino, which is in California's Gold Country, and about 100 people were lined up to secure tables in the casino's Willow Creek Lounge.
Once I entered the lounge, I saw about a dozen fliers, all about bluegrass festivals. They were located all over the country, and there was even one about a bluegrass cruise. I was amazed to see how many artists perform at each of these events like the New Year's Bluegrass Festival in Jekyll Island, Ga. and the 21st Annual Sally Mountain Park Bluegrass Festival in Queen City, Mo.
Once the music started, I could tell the show would be much different than standard country fare. The musicians really showcase their talents, and they share the vocals a lot more than a mainstream country act would do.
They also have several instrumental sets, which I'm not used to because I'm mainly a country listener. But I think I could adjust to it.
Vincent's voice is every bit as good as any mainstream country artist, and she can sing everything from rollicking bluegrass songs to tender ballads. My favorite was "Til They Came Home" about communities waiting for soldiers to return from war.
The show proved to me that bluegrass is a genre that's more enjoyable live than it is on recording.
The bluegrass artists seemed very fan friendly, taking the time to chat with fans and sign autographs during a 30-minute intermission.
Next time, I'll have to take in an entire festival and get a chance to see what other talented acts this genre has to offer.