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A subpar outing from Tuttle? Uh, no way

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., June 23, 2022

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

After Molly Tuttle's latest visit, one questions whether the California acoustic guitar bluegrass ace has ever given a subpar performance.

Tuttle mixes it up this time around after having put out a covers album ("but I'd rather be with you") during the pandemic and more recently formed a new band, Golden Highway, now backing her after releasing "Crooked Tree" earlier this year.

Tuttle's sound these days is steeped in bluegrass instead of the Americana flavoring favored in recent years.

Tuttle certainly believed in the new album as well she should. After all, Tuttle played 11 of 12 live. Among the highlights were "Over the Line," the autobiographical "Grass Valley" and "San Francisco Blues."

Tuttle went for a straight-ahead cowboy country tune with "Side Saddle," a fun, welcome contrast to most of what was played during the 100-minute show. She capably underscored that she could go ahead and do a classic country disc no problem as well.

Tuttle also threw in a few well-placed covers, including the Stones' "She's a Rainbow," which she has performed on previous tours.

But Tuttle covering Rancid? Not so expected, but she did with her take on "Olympia, WA," saying she used to listen to the song when she was 12. The songs appeared on her covers disc. Later, she tackled Townes Van Zandt's "White Freightliner Blues" to good effect.

There's a lot to Tuttle musically, who made it clear she's not willing to be pigeonholed with well-conceived covers and her own style thrown in.

Tuttle, of course, is an exquisite acoustic guitarist. After all, there is a reason why she won honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association and the Americana Music Association. She's fluid, sharp, clean and propels the songs. Yet, in keeping with her low-key personality, Tuttle also refused to hog center stage.

Tuttle is touring with Golden Highway, which includes Bronwyn Keith-Hynes on fiddle, Dominick Leslie (Hawktail) on mandolin, one-time Della Mae member Shelby Means on bass and Kyle Tuttle (no relation) on banjo.

As usual, Tuttle gave each band mate a whole lot of space and face time from start to finish. Every member received ample opportunity showcase their considerable talents with Keith-Hynes and Kyle Tuttle often having the most captivating moments with Leslie not trailing very far behind.

Kyle Tuttle even had the honors of taking lead vocals on a boogie song that was miles apart from what else was played on this evening.

The band stirred up the musical potpourri pot further with a fiddle tune during the three-song encore with a few guests as well, including a soprano sax player Lihi Haruvi and Jake Means, Shelby's brother, on mandolin.

The closing song of the night, "Big Backyard," may make it clear exactly where Tuttle stands during tough times around the world. She wrote the song with Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show.

It's a song of togetherness with the lines: "How some folks say to stake your claim/And fence it in why can't we see it different?/Come on out to the big backyard/It ain't mine it ain't yours it's all of ours."

Yup, we're all in this together, and Tuttle sure made you want to join in.

By the way, lest there be any doubt, the answer to the opening query is a most definitive "no way."

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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