I'm still smiling after an incredible evening with Bradford Lee Folk and the Bluegrass Playboys. Alternating between Bradford's high lonesome vocals and hard driving bluegrass instrumentals, the band grabbed everyone and held on tight the whole evening. Bradford and his band showcased songs from their new album, "Somewhere Far Away," a set of songs that speak of heartache, wandering, rolling with what life gives you, and ultimately forging ahead.
Bradford's vocals are incredibly heartfelt--his connection with the audience is powerful. His lyrics have the turns of phrase and emotions of a book of poetry; add music, and it's magical. Playing a sweet Martin guitar along with lead vocals, he's an artist who commands the room.
Robert Trapp on banjo fits one of those over-used words: virtuoso. His breaks remind me of the effortless technicality of Noam Pikelny, and that's not something I say lightly. Killer picker with a sound that adds tremendous depth and shading to the overall sound and then breaks out into the open for stunner solos.
I couldn't believe we haven't run into Nathan Swartz before now around Fort Collins. He has a Bill Monroe-type force on his mandolin and the ability to pick light and sweet too. Our mando-boy in residence, Eli, was enthralled watching Nathan's cross-picking, arpeggios, and tremolos. That's some serious skill with infectious smiles on stage. Robert & Nathan's backup vocals added to the depth of the overall sound.
And then there's Daniel Hyberger on bass. Wow. A cross-over from jazz & swing to bluegrass, Daniel has technique out the wazoo and soul to boot. Right in the pocket with energy and force, Daniel's big bad bass keeps the sound driving down the road.
And like all our house concerts, folks get the chance to talk with the band, hear their stories. Bradford, Robert, Nathan, and Daniel are the kind of guys you genuinely like hanging out with, sharing a beer and a pulled-pork sandwich. Class act all the way around. I'm looking forward to hearing them again this weekend at the Midwinter Bluegrass Festival. Can't wait to see y'all again, Bradford Lee Folk & the Bluegrass Playboys!!
---Dianne Stober, co-host of Old Town House Concerts.