Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 4 Reviews

Laurie Lewis
Arrow Stage
Sunday, Oct. 3, 11:15 a.m.
Reviewed by Mark Hedin

Berkeley native Laurie Lewis opened Sunday's show at the Arrow stage, strumming and singing "Willie Poor Boy" with sidekick Tom Rozum on mandolin, Berkeley mafioso Darol Anger on fiddle and Todd Phillips on bass. An a cappella "Quiet Hills" followed.

"We played late last night and hollered and screamed," she told the crowd, a little sheepishly, "with Robert Earle Keene, Dale Anne Bradley, Jimmie Dale Gilmore - everybody had three names except me. I'm from Berkeley, they don't give us three names."

"Bad Seed," from her new High Tone album Guest House, found Lewis and Rozum alternating vocal lines. She switched to fiddle for Si Kahn's "Just a Lie," a song about how "those good old days were mostly pretty bad."

Hazel Dickens' "My Heart's Own Love" was followed by two from Jim Ringer: "Rose of San Joaquin" and "Tramps and Hawkers," with Lewis and Anger trading fiddle solos.

Lewis then asked the crowd, "Do we all know that Bill Monroe is the father of bluegrass?" She described her next offering as being inspired by a description in the recent Bill Monroe biography, Can't You Hear Me Calling?, of the courtship of Monroe's parents.

"So this is a song about the grandparents. Without them, we wouldn't be here today. We'd be at Reggae Fest."

Monroe's mother Malissa, Lewis said,"was quite the fiddle player till she met up with J.B. and had eight kids. Good thing she hung in there, Bill was the last."

The song, "O My Malissa," segued into the twin-fiddle breakdown, "How Old Are You?"

Lewis introduced "special guitar star" Michael Witcher on his resophonic for the final two numbers, with Rozum switching from guitar to mandolin mid-song on the finale, "Sleepy Eyed John."

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