Using breezy charm and brisk melodies, the Greencards easily won over the audience at the Birchmere on Monday night before heading over to Prince George's Stadium on Tuesday, where they joined the Bob Dylan/Willie Nelson tour of minor league baseball stadiums.
The band's catchy, comfortable bluegrass-country amalgamation deserves a shot at the kind of crowds that tour is certain to generate. The unlikely combination of Australians Carol Young on bass and Kim Warner on mandolin and Englishman Eamon McLoughlin on fiddle plays traditional American music better than most American musicians, no doubt because they have such an overwhelming respect for the source material. It didn't hurt that joining them on acoustic guitar was Pat Flynn, last seen at the Birchmere in 1989 with bluegrass radicals New Grass Revival.
Dexterous plucking and tight harmonies highlighted "Movin' On," "Weather and Water" and "Almost Home." If Union Station and Nickel Creek can find success, certainly the Greencards are ready for naturalization.
The show's headliners, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, keep the tradition of folk swing music alive. After all these years Hicks's soft tenor is as intact as his droll sense of humor, and he confidently led his band of mandolinist, bassist, fiddler and the singing duo known as the Lickettes through notable songs from his back catalogue.
Acoustic guitarist David Bell added jazz to the swing as Hicks scatted and sang "The Buzzard Was Their Friend," "Where's the Money," " 'Long Come a Viper" and "One More Cowboy," sung as a duet on the album "Selected Shorts" with Willie Nelson -- who wasn't on hand, no doubt waiting for the Greencards at Prince George's Stadium.
-- Buzz McClain