Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 4 Reviews

Tim O'Brien
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1:15 p.m.
Banjo Stage
Reviewed by Mike Alexis

With Riley Baugus on banjo and Dirk Powell on mandolin and fiddle, Tim O'Brien had a solid foundation for his pure-sounding voice and guitar to get through the cold afternoon. Baugus's down-home, Southern demeanor set the mood as he charmed the audience with in-between song anecdotes. The trio's set was a loose, intimate affair and they had no trouble connecting with the large crowd.

O'Brien, Baugus and Powell made a pretty good name for themselves working on the Cold Mountain soundtrack so it was inevitable we would hear the Baugus-penned tune "The Cuckoo." Baugus told of how the director Anthony Minghella visited the studio during the recording sessions and strongly suggested that he sings, "coo coo" during the song's chorus. It was an odd request that Baugus finally relented to, and when they played the song and he sarcastically sang the line, it was darn funny to hear. The next song was from O'Brien's latest release, The Traveller, a driving, bluesy number that started off with him missing the vocal cue. Without missing a beat, they all keep the song going and O'Brien asks if he can try that again and jumped right back into it. Afterwards he said, "Let me know if the show's too slick for ya."

They threw in a few "songs from the mountains," the first of which featured a long skipping fiddle intro courtesy of Powell that gave way to quick paced bluegrass instrumental. The other they called "Song of the Boll Weevil" and featured fine claw-hammer banjo-picking and some authentic Appalachian singing from Baugus. To close it out O'Brien switched to mandolin for Celtic-folk inspired "Another Day," another song from The Traveller.

Halfway through the final day, it had gotten so cold that people were bundling up as best they could. Tim O'Brien, with the help of Riley Baugus and Dirk Powell, raised the temperatures a bit.

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