A couple of months ago, bassist T. Michael Coleman, best known for his work with Doc Watson, replaced Tom Gray in the Seldom Scene. The change means that the band now features a fretless electric bass instead of Gray's acoustic model, but the difference seems marginal, at least in concert.
At the Birchmere last night, Coleman made judicious use of the fretless' throbbing tone and its characteristically slinky glisses. He mostly favored a discreet sound, underpinning the songs with a solid but hardly flashy pulse. For the time being, it seems, his presence will be felt more in the recording studio, and the changes, if any, will be gradual.
Guitarist Lou Reid, a relative newcomer to the band himself, has also adapted easily. He's a fine flat-picker with a reedy voice, offering a nice contrast to John Duffey's high tenor.
As the group moved from Bob Dylan's "Only a Hobo" to bluegrass standards, gospel tunes and a rousing "After Midnight," the blend of Duffey's mandolin, Ben Eldridge's banjo and Mike Auldridge's dobro was as finely tuned and spirited as ever.
The band returns tonight and Saturday night. It will also join the Country Gentlemen at the club on New Year's Eve.