Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 4 Reviews

Donner Mountain Bluegrass Band
Saturday, Oct. 2, 4:30 p.m.
Star Stage
Reviewed by Rachel Turner

The Donner Mountain Bluegrass Band burned up the Star Stage on Saturday with their infectious brand of blazing bluegrass. They had a meager audience at first, but as their set progressed, the crowd swelled, drawn like moths to a flame. Young and full of fire, the group played with a vibrant voracity not often seen in a bluegrass band.

Musically, the band was tight and solid - a fine family unit. Mandolin player Tom "Lefty" Kingsley, a young man from Berkeley, never seemed to run out of energy. The star of the show, however, was 17-year-old fiddle player Annie Staninec. This young woman tore into the fiddle with an incredible fierceness that can only be brought on by youth and can only be harnessed by sheer talent. Her tiny frame shook as she gave the fiddle everything she had. The amazing energy and passion she put into her performance was a sight to behold. As a sweet reward, when she pounced on "Lonesome Fiddle Blues" like an old hand, the audience began to mosey over from other stages, lured by the siren song of her fiddle.

Filling their set with upbeat numbers, the Donner Mountain Bluegrass Band had the crowd dancing and clapping along. Even the slower songs had a certain zealous quality that gave the tunes an appealing buoyancy. They performed a number of Bill Monroe covers with surprising authenticity. They closed their set with Mr. Monroe's "Rawhide," bringing the picnic-blanket crowd to their feet for a standing ovation.

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