New England’s bluegrass all-stars thrill with virtuosic performance

Some of the best bluegrass musicians from across New England came together in the Ecumenical Center this past Monday and presented a soulful, foot-stomping performance not soon to be forgotten.

The Blackstone Valley Bluegrass Band is a folk music powerhouse comprised of brothers Bob and Dave Dick, Ken Taylor and Dan Nowlin. Each of these musicians has achieved national success and recognition with their work on countless bluegrass records and performances, which is quite obvious when they step on stage and jam out.

The sound put out by this group is like nothing else. Bob Dick’s guitar playing leads the group effortlessly through each chord, filling any empty space with warm strumming on his acoustic six-string, not to mention his masterful slide work on the dobro – a horizontally played string instrument with a resonating chamber. Bob’s brother Dave specializes on the banjo, playing fast and articulately. His warm but twangy picking style complimented every other instrument and voice perfectly while keeping the pace quick and exciting.

Taylor, the tall fellow on the upright bass, towers over the entire band not just in stature, but sonically. His flawless timing kept each of the other band members right on beat, while giving off a soulful booming tone as each string was plucked. Nowlin appeared to be the front man of the band, giving off vibes of pure, worry-free delight. His skill on mandolin was superb, and kept the audience smiling.

The music performed ranged from traditional fast-paced bluegrass all the way to classic rock and country covers, such as “Soulshine” by Warren Haynes and “Cold December” by Glen Campbell. Hearing some familiar songs in that particular style was an interesting and fresh take on those classics. Each of the songs had outstanding vocal harmonies, which stood out as the highlight of the afternoon.

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