Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 4 Reviews

Alison Brown
Saturday, October 2, 2:35 p.m.
Banjo Stage
Reviewed by Aimee Spanier

If you were dozing at the Banjo Stage when Alison Brown began her set you'd no doubt start dreaming you were cruising down the highway on a cross-country trip, watching the scenery roll by. Your nap would only last as long as Brown's first, brief tune - by song number two, "Heads Up for the Wrecking Ball" by Andrea Zahn, was anything but drowsy.

This is noticeably more polished music than a lot of her fellow performers here, but it is no less sincere sounding. The longtime relationships they have with their instruments is obvious; Brown's set with her band - including Andrea Zahn and Irishman Jon Doyle - has an easy and energetic maturity to it, like they are at a point in their careers that they are comfortable (but not complacent by any means) with the music, but still deeply in love with it.

Though it's her name on the marquee (such as it is), Brown gives her bandmates time to show their songwriting chops with songs from their solo efforts. Zahn's lush, zaftig beauty shone with "Wrecking Ball" and others, while Doyle's Irish roots burst through with his jiggy "Jack Dolan."

Brown herself, who left a corporate job in San Francisco to pursue her dreams in Nashville,

The set was a mix of American classics and Irish traditionals (as well as songs influenced by both). A highlight came late in the set, when the trio lit into the sea chantey "The Wonderful Voyage of St. Brendan," a sunny, uplifting tune that bore a sense of excited adventure, and adventure you've wanted to take all your life and are finally setting out on. Maybe one that you'd dreamed of while dozing on a pile of spreadsheets at your desk...

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