Bluegrasser Lewis shows lively enthusiasm
The Neighborhood Church, Pasadena, CA., March 11, 1999
By Dan MacIntosh
PASADENA, CA. - Laurie Lewis may be a lover of traditional bluegrass music, but in concert, she reveals a lively enthusiasm for performing, instead of coming off as a stale and stately traditionalist.
For example, with the jazzy "Kiss Me Before I Die," Lewis took the opportunity to dance out her emotions of romantic longing. By shedding herself of any musical instrument, she was able to throw herself completely into the song.
Of course, such a tune was an exception to tonight's set list rule - which focused on more traditional Stanley Brothers, Louvin Brothers and Carter Family songs, in addition Lewis' fine original songs. Most of which, by the way, were not dance numbers.
Lewis was accompanied by Tom Rozum on mandolin and Todd Phillips at the bass, and these three interacted well together; just as you might have expected from a unit that has played together for as long as they have. Lewis either strummed an acoustic guitar, or jammed with the other two on the fiddle.
Although Lewis carried herself with a sunny disposition, much of her repertoire this night was inspired by a recent serious car accident-including, believe it or not, the aforementioned "Kiss Me Before I Die." While "Kiss Me" faces her dire circumstances with cheer, "Angel On His Shoulder" takes a more sobering look at mortality. And even though much of her subject matter may have leaned towards the serious side, Lewis never let her seriousness become a burden to the audience.
About midway through, the wonderful Herb Pederson (of Laurel Canyon Ramblers) joined Lewis on banjo with her group then playing a cruel game of stump the banjo player. And even though they threw a lot of unfamiliar songs at him, Pederson handled himself admirably.
Like the old song says, we should try and look on the sunny side of life. And although Lewis has good reason to focus on darkness, it was a pleasure to bask in the sun's glow right along with her.