The Appleseed Collective - Still Hand String Band @ Gypsy Sally's, Washington DC - May 22 2015.
Still Hand String Band
From northeast Pennsylvania comes this vibrant quartet offering up their version of 21st century bluegrass music. They feature three vocalists and play standup bass, banjo, acoustic guitar, and mandolin. Pace is the consistent component of their approach and with just a bit of eclectic nature to their approach they remind me of a rustic Boiled in Lead. The leads are good, especially the banjo runs where the guy's clawhammer right hand is blurry fun.
A little eclectic? How about finishing up with an Appalachian take on Pink Floyd' Pigs? Half the fun of something like that is the 'wait, I know that song... is that really Pink Floyd?' The other half of the fun is appreciation of how they can do a cover song straight up, but with their instruments and make it recognizable an unique at the same time. Great fun was had by all with this fine opening set.
The Appleseed Collective
Collective is right--there is a lot of diverse talent here that some how congeals into this fine band. They feature washboard percussion, standup bass, acoustic guitar, and violin/mandolin. All four sing, with three of them rotating lead work. The guitarist handles most lead vocals with his agile voice that sends things off to the early 20th century with a merging of Cole Porter, Bob Wills, and lounge swing bands.
The bass player takes a more classic Americana ballad approach in his two songs, which while a bit more predictable is quite warm and inviting. The violinist/mandolin player is somewhere in between as this band takes their adventurous journey with a relaxed attitude the whole way. They wowed this crowd who clearly appreciated the talent they had and the way they put it together in a familiar way, yet that was just slightly ajar.
And their music had to be good to keep me focused, as I was wondering if this was not some alternative universe where I was seeing the Velvet Underground doing something radically different. This was primarily due to the black clad violinist looking like John Cale, but looking at the whole band, if the drummer would lose the beard.... Somehow the adventurous nature of both the VU and the AC seemed to connect here.
And I'm sorry to have missed The Hillbilly Gypsies... I am sure they did well.
(1) Still Hand String Band,
(2) The Appleseed Collective