Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 4 Reviews

Kevin Welch & Kieran Kane
Saturday, Oct. 2, 1:35pm
Rooster Stage
Reviewed by Nick Dedina

It was so unexpectedly cold on the Saturday of the festival that every couple of minutes my hands hurt so badly writing that I had to plunge them into my pockets. You could tell that the cold snap was obviously effecting the assembled musicians because most of them mentioned it. What was surprising was that the playing didn't seem to suffer. A case in point was Kevin Welch & Kieran Kane who augmented into a trio that had such a big, wide-open sound that I kept checking to see if other musicians weren't hidden off to the side of the stage.

The number "Flycatcher Jack & The Whippoorwill Song" hummed with strong atmospherics that matched its narrative about a broken down cowboy who Welch used to see around town. The key lyric of "All I know is if I had wings I'd be gone by now" resonated on such a cold day. This was followed up by the tune "All Shadows On the Ground Look the Same" which practically sobbed with mournful fiddle and guitar. The mandolin and squeezebox came out for a cover of Ron Davies' striking ballad "Dark-Eyed Gal." Then two guitars and the fiddle came back out and took things up a few notches with "Hillbilly Blue." The band continued riding the good spirits with "The Jersey Devil," a good-humored ditty about a 300-year old swamp monster living in the Garden State. Then, setting out to prove that the combination of mandolin, guitar and squeezebox can sizzle (yes, you read that correctly) the trio launched into a rocking "Roadhouse Blues," which is followed by the violin solo extravaganza "Wolves A'howling." The banjo was spotlighted on the Welch & Kane title tune "Can't Save Everybody," before the group energized the crowd with "Everybody's Workin' For the Man Again," a pungent, but very energizing, protest folk-rocker that deserves to be widely covered. Things were definitely warmer when Welch & Kane left the stage than when they came on.

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