I am by no means a professional musician. I’m a poser. I’m a wannabe if that and I only wish I was a little more qualified to critique ones music. I do play the guitar, barely sing, and can’t read a bit of music.
What I can say is that my time at the El Rey Theater this past Saturday in Los Angeles was more than just a moving experience. It was mind blowing. The night started with Aoife O’Donovan who helped Chris Thile with one of the songs on, “The Goat Rodeo Sessions” with that YO-YO MA dude. Until the Goat Rodeo Sessions I hadn’t heard of Aoife. The song I loved the most was when she sang “Lay My Burden Down” which is a song Alison Krauss covered and I had assumed AK wrote the song when I had learned later that it was O’Donovans. What an honor for Aoife to have someone like Krauss sing one of her tunes. Every song Aoife sang, I was immediately drawn into a place where I was able to retreat and just be. I had blocked out that the entire place was sold out. Given her recent work with with Thile, YO-YO MA, and the Goat Rodeo Sessions, she will continue to succeed.
As for Thile and the Punch brothers? I have been a fan of Thile’s since Nickel Creek. We had first caught the peeps of Nickel Creek back when we lived in New Jersey at a performance in Princeton and we were hooked. We have followed each one of them ever since including a couple of trips to the Largo at the Coronet on occasion to catch the Watkins Family Hour. From start to finish the amount of talent that oozes out of the dudes of the Punch Brothers is truly amazing. When Aoife said in her set that “our faces would be melted off” I couldn’t agree more. I love the creativity, the excitement, and the fact that from the first note to the last you’re drawn into a place of musical bliss. What I like about Thile is that although he could easily and it would be well deserved, make the show about him, he does just the opposite. He passes the ball around and includes everyone in on the magic of the story that is being told in each song. The best part of the night had to be when Thile and the boys went off and had some fun and Thile morphed into Hendrix on the mandolin. When Aoife came back on and they sang a favorite already of mine, “Here and Heaven” off the Goat Rodeo Session Album, it was for me the exclamation point of the evening. What I really liked was that the the crowd wasn’t just a room full of bluegrass folk music hipsters. What I loved that It was a diverse group of old and young. If I could sum up my evening at the El Rey I would say that my soul was indeed refreshed and I left feeling renewed and even a bigger fan of anything that has the words Bluegrass or Folk on the album.
Here’s one of my favorite moments.