Greencards: Bluegrass With Varied Accents
Halfway through Monday's show at Jammin' Java, vocalist-bassist Carol Young introduced the acoustic guitarist to her left as the newest member of the band, Matt Wingate, just seven dates into his tenure.
You would never have known it, as his deft flat-picking fit perfectly with the skillful instrumentation that has been the trademark of the Greencards since they formed several years ago. The Alabaman adds his distinctive accent to the bluegrass-Americana band made up of two Australians and an Englishman, and one wonders what conversations sound like in the tour van.
Surely the Greencards are the first Aussie-English-American outfit to reach the top of the Billboard bluegrass chart, as their disc "Viridian" did upon its release last month, and while the accolade may be deserved, it's impossible to classify the Nashville-based band as simply bluegrass. New numbers "River of Sand," "Waiting on the Night" and "When I Was in Love With You" recall progressive folk from the 1960s, with Young's keening vocals and sparse bass lines giving the songs broadly measured space.
But not always. Brit Eamon McLoughlin, so impressive with his liquid fiddling, and mandolinist Kym Warner, who defies expectations with thrill rides up and down the fingerboard, paired up for a Brazilian instrumental before bursting into the lively "Lonesome Side of Town," one of the few "real" bluegrass numbers in the set.
As for Wingate, he not only took it all in stride, he showcased his own nimble skills without showing up his new employers.
-- Buzz McClain