One great thing about the fall season is the anticipation of the schedule releases from our favorite music venues and theaters in close proximity to our home in PA. We are often surprised with the announcements of a few Canadian acts that have been booked to perform at these venues, and on a recent Thursday evening, I took a short drive to Frederick, MD to enjoy an evening of contemporary bluegrass music from Toronto’s Slocan Ramblers.
I soon arrived at the historic Weinberg Center for the Arts in the heart of downtown Frederick; this particular event was part of the venue’s ‘Tivoli Discovery’ series that brings in lesser-known acts from afar to this area. Playing in this beautiful restored theater to a decent sized (and very appreciative) crowd, the Slocan Ramblers brand of energetic bluegrass proved to be the perfect ingredients on a mid-week evening. With some wonderful four-piece harmonies and impeccable picking skills, this quartet of Frank Evans (banjo), Adrian Gross (mandolin), Darryl Poulsen (guitar) and Alastair Whitehead (bass) delighted all with their fusion of traditional and modern bluegrass music.
Opening with the amusing tale that is “Riley the Furniture Man” from their brand new “Queen City Jubilee” album, the band would naturally perform several tracks from this release. Mixing vocal tracks such as “Through and Through” with instrumental cuts such as “Shut the Door,” The Slocan Ramblers sang and picked their new songs with plenty of enthusiasm, and were duly rewarded with solid feedback and applause from this bluegrass loving crowd. Each musician had many opportunities to stand in the spotlight for some solo pieces, dazzling each and every time with their flawless skills on their respective stringed instruments. Adding a few earlier hits, such as Alastair’s original composition, “Angeline,” the band would ultimately close the show with a rousing version of the opening track from the new album, “Mississippi Heavy Water Blues.” With a well-deserved ovation, the quartet would return from a brief hiatus to thank the audience once more, and offer up an encore number to satisfy the hunger of those before them.
The Slocan Ramblers proved to be a popular hit at The Weinberg Center for the Arts on a mid-week evening, and a wonderful candidate for this ‘Tivoli Discovery’ series. What better way to spend a couple of hours than in the company of these incredibly talented musicians, and the enjoyment of their modern take on the bluegrass genre? I for one certainly reached out to the manager on duty at the venue and asked her to bring these gentlemen back again for another show in the future, and I’m sure that most in the room would be appreciative of that too. I’d like to thank Frank, Adrian, Darryl and Alastair for the chat after the show, and wish them well on their continued journey and musical success. Team GDW look forward to returning to this wonderful venue once again for another ‘Tivoli Discovery’ series show later this year.