Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 4 Reviews

Perfect Strangers
Sunday, Oct. 3, 11 a.m.
Banjo Stage
Reviewed by Mike Alexis

This good-natured group of bluegrass veterans and young guns started the day off on the right foot. Chris Brashear (fiddle), Bob Black (banjo), Jody Stecher (mandolin), Peter McLaughlin (guitar), and Forrest Rose (bass) charmed us with anecdotes and top-notch bluegrass that took the hardly out of the festival's title. With one mic at the front of the stage, Perfect Strangers leaned in and smiled their way through thirty minutes of old-time, good-time music.

The top of the set included a raucous Kenny Baker tune that had a real kinetic kick and gave each member a chance to showcase his technical prowess. Next came a whimsical song written and sung by Jody Stecher. According to him it was inspired by a San Francisco encounter with a panhandler who asked for the curiously specific amount of 17 cents. Each member contributes vocals and songwriting duties and Stecher's quirky and clever song showed the variety of styles each member has. Another highlight was the tender Chris Brashear penned ballad that was a sentimental and detailed account of the life of a fallen soldier. They ended the set with "Racin' Through the Pacin'", a fast-tempo instrumental song that gave each member a solo spotlight that showed the virtuosity and chemistry they all possess.

As stakes were still being claimed on the giant field with blankets and chairs, Perfect Strangers all graciously bowed and thanked those of us who got there early. It was a warm gesture and the perfect beginning to this very cold day.

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