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It's no wonder that 10 String Symphony stays busy

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., August 16, 2018

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Other recent concert reviews
To say that Rachel Baiman has been busy might be an understatement. Last year, she released the very fine "Shame" CD and toured behind that. Just last month, she and musical collaborator Christian Sedelmyer put out their third album, "Generation Frustration," under the moniker 10 String Symphony.

The two were on an ultra-short tour with a stop at the venerable, intimate club to show a different side from their other gigs. When not part of 10 String Symphony, Sedelmyer plays fiddle for the Jerry Douglas Band.

10 String Symphony is a strictly acoustic affair with Sedelmyer always on fiddle. Sometimes Baiman would join him for a two-fiddle attack, while she also was active on banjo. They sure had enough going on even from with just two instruments.

This was a set that grew over time with sound varying and growing as the songs progressed. For a good stretch, there tended to be a bit of a similarity between material - not a bad thing in the hands of Baiman and Sedelmyer because their playing could be forceful with staccato playing.

It helped that Baiman's voice, which has an unmistakable resemblance to that of Gillian Welch, was forceful - when need be. Sedelmyer assumed lead vocals on several songs and while not equal to the expressive Baiman in singing acumen, he held his own.

At times, the playing and singing went to the more subdued side. Ten String Symphony upped the ante with a cover of John Hartford's "On Christmas Eve" with more of a country lilt.

The pair told a few good stories during the evening, particularly Sedelmyer on the song that would not be named, the instrumental "F*ckin' Up." He explained that while recording the disc in Scotland, even though they live in Nashville where a few studios exist, he felt like his turn on "I Can't Have You Anymore" was not up to his own standards.

So, he let loose by playing his fiddle. He wanted to move on, but Baiman thought they had a short song there. Apparently, they did because it's on the album and served as the coda in concert to "I Can't Have You Anymore," one of the strongest songs of the night.

Good story and two good songs came out of it on this evening.

The show was not the kind of gig designed to bowl you over. Perhaps this was not the music stylistically that would accomplish that anyway. Instead, it required listening from a duo more than competent and songs well sung and played.

In this rough and tumble times of music, it's not unusual for an artist to have several outlets to make a go of it. No matter what route they pursue, Baiman and Sedelmyer have the chops to stay busy.