Back from two RockRoots gigs this afternoon, I had a chance to reboot for a Godfrey’s gig, a Dave’s Night Out. Tonight was Michael Johnson and Quentin Fisher from our emerging bluegrass stars Serene Green. I dreamed this up a long time ago so I was looking forward to this evening. Que and Micheal have been doing a duo for months, years, as friends and band mates. I asked them to work on Old Time Bluegrass Duos as a theme. They did great!!!
I’ve been working with a “sit-down” format, playing and conversing in chairs on stage. Michael emailed me that they were going to be standing, and working with a central mike, as they do with the full band. I negotiated a combination of the two and it worked very nicely. I trust my folk production instincts. As it turned out, it proved to be a very nice move.
I started out with Truck Driving Man, an old Steppin’ Out! tune that I pulled out of my ass for this one. But, it was a good way to have Q and M add some chops. Established the improvisation to the evening.
These guys are the real deal and they both work really hard on their songs, harmonies and mando/guitar work, with tremendous respect for the tradition. They have my complete respect for what they do. We had great conversations about the role of the instruments, the harmonies, the history of brother duos (Monroe, Delmore, Stanley, Traums, and more). Lots and lots of acoustic porn, actually.
Quentin has really accepted his role as lead communicator for the band, with humor, factual knowledge and a welcoming stage presence. Frankly, I told him I see a lot of me (with my Sheiks/Skiffle Band/Steppin’ Out! duties) in his stage craft. Q’s the real deal.
I pulled out the Delmore Brother’s Deep River Blues. It was good break to the countryish sound, with more of a blues tone. It was appreciated and surprised some of the folks who haven’t heard me play.
After some more sit and chat, I asked the boys to take the single mike set up to the side. , to demonstrate how they usually play. Bang. They played some flawless duo tunes and the audience got to see it done to perfection.
As we settled down again, I pulled out Golden Bird, a old/new tune for me, and one I had run through earlier at the sound check. Again, it was great. I asked to join their band and they asked to join mine. That’s pretty cool. We should do it.
We wrapped up after about two hours, and Q said we could have gone on. I agree. I was pleased to introduce both Quentin and Michael to the concept of a small stage conversation and they both came up big.
It was a very long day on stage(s) but quite a good way to roll.