Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 4 Reviews

Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet
Saturday, Oct. 2, 3:50 p.m.
Arrow Stage
Reviewed by Mike Alexis

They all looked real sharp - Peter Rowan in a blue suit and flowery shirt with big lapels, Tony Rice and the rest looking equally dapper. The field was completely full with a perimeter of people standing in a wide arc around the stage, while the rest sat in the middle and tried to stay warm. Accompanied by Billy Bright on mandolin and Bryn Bright on bass, Rowan and Rice celebrated the recent release of their Rounder Records CD with a few choice numbers off the disc (including the title cut "You Were There For Me"), as well as some classic Rowan tunes.

With the sun sadly nowhere in site, they eased into things with "Miss Liberty," a mellow Bob Dylan-type ballad that quietly caught the crowd's attention. A few songs later came "Wild Mustang," which started with a pretty Spanish guitar intro courtesy of Rice, which gave way to Rowan's trademark yodel, and was capped off with a wild slappin' bass solo from Bryn.

On what we all thought was the final number, fiddle player Darol Anger joined them on stage and Rowan forcefully declared, "the Free Mexican Air Force is flyin' tonight!" as well as the obtuse statement, "remember to send a Mexed message." With Anger on board they played one of the most spirited songs of the set, which showcased Rice's fluid flat-picking style perfectly.

But just when we thought it was over, they walked back on stage and immediately jumped into the well-known Rowan tune "Moonlight Midnight," which showed the band at its most bluegrass. This time Darol and Billy traded licks as most of the crowd jumped to their feet. It was a great surprise that capped off a varied set already full of surprises. And without a word they were gone.

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