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Doors and Windows – 2009 (Compass)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Bearfoot

While it's distinctive enough to be described as a bluegrass band from Alaska, Bearfoot has the added intrigue, in an era when bluegrass still tends to be testosterone-heavy, of featuring three women among their five members - fiddlers Odessa Jorgensen and Angela Oudean, along with bassist Kate Hamre. The guys are guitarist Mike Mickelson and mandolin player Jasn Norris, and while all five contribute vocally, it's the shared leads of Jorgensen and Oudean that give this band its unique sound, whether on classic Carter Family tunes like Single Girl or original material like Time Is No Medicine, a tale of a good girl jilted and gone astray.

In noting that none of them play banjo - at least not here (label chief Alison Brown supplies that) - some may question whether or not they're really bluegrass. Their sound does lean much farther toward the Americana end than to classic Flatt and Scruggs, but whether you call it 'grass or not, it shouldn't obscure the fact that these Far Northerners are a quality band with a good sense of what they're all about.