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For Spirit Family Reunion, the show eventually must go on

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., May 21, 2015

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Normally when a band shows up at the same concert hall only five weeks after the previous slated gig, one would think that said band must be uber popular.

That was not exactly the situation for Brooklyn-based Spirit Family Reunion, but they were most welcome for a return appearance anyway - especially considering that they didn't even get a chance to play in April.

Don't blame Spirit Family Reunion for that because the lights went out and did not come until hours later. The show was bagged, leading to this quick return.

The wait was worth it. The Spirit Family Reunion is one of those Americana-type bands with a lot of, well, spirit, which started with the vocals of lead singer Nick Panken. He's not the most gregarious front man out there, but he sure was right for the songs.

Banjo player Maggie Carson also took a turn at lead vocals, although she paled in comparison to Panken. She just couldn't match his authority of delivery and vocal quality, but was far better on backing harmonies.

The band mixed up a bit of a raw sounding country, string and bluegrass sounds with a dose of Louisiana mixed in thanks to washboard ace Stephen Weinheimer, who was prominent throughout the 70-minute set. The material tended to be on the fast side ("It Does Not Bother Me," one of the best numbers on this night).

But not every song hit the pedal. "Gone, Gone, Gone" was more of a weeper with a lot of banjo from Carson.

There were a few new additions this time around in the presence of the Harley boys from Providence, R.I. Dylan is the timekeeper (and lone non-Brooklyn resident of Spirit Family Reunion) while brother Noah handled the fiddle playing.

Noah got his fiddle going full steam on the strong closing song, "Put Your Hands Together When You Spin the Wheel," a fast one with lots of Carson's backing vocals.

This band was well named. Spirit infiltrates their playing, and after all, bands ought to be like families. As for the reunion, well, maybe that could be linked with had happened between the April gig and this real deal. Gigs like this only help make a band more popular.