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Old Man Luedecke keeps his head on straight

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., April 13, 2013

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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One could excuse Chris Luedecke, better known as Old Man Luedecke, these days if he considers the oddities of life. Here he was on a Saturday night, playing before less than 100 people in a venerable Boston-area night club - and then the next day he is playing the same music festival - Tortuga in Florida - that boasts Kenny Chesney as a headliner and thousands of fans.

Luedecke's head could be spinning a bit, but he seemed quite comfy within the confines of a small club. OML is touring behind is very fine "Tender is the Night" CD, nominated in February for a Juno (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) for Best Roots/Traditional Album.

The Old Man (he really isn't all that old) did not let success go to his head from the nomination or two previous Juno wins. In fact, he is not all that well known in the U.S., but if he keeps up shows like this one, it won't be because of his lack of talent.

Luedecke, who hails from Nova Scotia, played banjo and was accompanied by fiddler/mandolin player/backing vocalist Joel E Hunt. Luedecke played more of an old time style of music than anything else, though bluegrass and country were definitely part of the mix.

Luedecke's voice was dexterous, sounding full, giving the songs more depth. Switching it up a bit here and there instrumentally (a constant stomping of his foot kept the beat going) also helped make for a more interesting - albeit too short - 10-song, 45 minute show as the closing act and headliner of the first of two nights of the Down Home Up Here Bluegrass Festival.

Luedecke also displayed a good stage presence. One got the sense that perhaps he tells the same stories every night, but that didn't matter because they were almost all of the humorous, poking fun at himself variety, showing warmth. He introduced Kingdom Come, saying he had grown a 13-foot sunflower at his house two years ago "which is a cause for celebration, so I put it in a song."

Life's been good for Old Man Luedecke - heck he has his third child coming within a matter of a few weeks - and with shows like this, it was easy to understand why. And he'll probably keep his head on straight.