Cos Music (cosmusic) wrote,
Cos Music
cosmusic

Thu, Jun 5: Jake Armerding at Passim

Years ago, I went to a concert at Somerville Theatre titled Lizards, Lights, and Romance. It was an annual event that only happened two years in a row. There, I saw a bluegrass band I liked a lot, Northern Lights. A national touring band based here in the Boston area, they do some singer/songwriter material as well as more bluegrassy sounding songs. On the two albums of theirs that I was playing at WBRS back then, they didn't have a fiddle player of their own - Alison Krauss was playing fiddle on those albums as a special guest. Which says something about the status they had achieved in the bluegrass world. By the time of the first Lizards, Lights, and Romance show, however, they had gotten a fiddle player. One of Northern Lights' founders, Taylor Armerding, invited his son Jake to play with the band, and that show was the first time I saw him play. He was about 15 years old, and he was amazing! One of the best unexpected musical surprises I've ever had.

Jake stayed with Northern Lights and recorded on a few of their albums. The last time I saw him play with them was when he was 18, and then I lost track of him. I wondered sometimes when I'd hear about him again, and expected that it would happen eventually, because he was much too good to stay out of sight. But when I did see him again, it was a complete surprise to me.

About four years ago, the Judith Edelman Band had a show at Club Passim, and I ran sound for it. Judith Edelman is one of my favorites, and with her band she does a sort of dark bluegrass folk-rock that reminds me of Salamander Crossing with a slight goth twist, and a very distinctive voice. Her husband Matt Flinner, also in the band, is a wonderful mandolin player of the David Grisman / Tony Rice / Darol Anger / Mike Marshall / Jerry Douglas sort of genre. I was looking forward to doing this show a lot, and I had a great time - and a great surprise. For some reason I no longer remember, Judith Edelman's fiddle player couldn't come to the Boston show, on very short notice, so they had to scramble to find a local fiddler to do the show with them. I didn't recognize him when I first saw him, he was no longer a teenager and besides, I'd only ever seen him far away on big stages. He was still amazing, and more so.

At that Judith Edelman show, we traded contact information, and he told me he was working on some music of his own, and a CD eventually. Two years later he booked a show at WBRS and played as a duo with his father, Taylor. I think by then his first CD was out, or maybe it came out just around then. I enjoyed it and listened to it a lot. Now, he's got a second CD coming out, and the CD release show is this week. I don't actually know what sort of band he's got, or if he's playing solo, but I've never been disappointed by him in any musical context.

Jake Armerding CD release show
Thursday, June 5th
Club Passim, 47 Palmer Street in Harvard Square.
8pm, $12 ($10 for members), all ages.

[Edit: I realized after I wrote this that it might lead you to expect to see him playing fiddle in a bluegrass band, and I don't think that's what this show will be. Jake Armerding's album under his own name is singer-songwriter folk material. He does play the violin, but he also writes folk songs and sings them. I wouldn't be surprised if his second CD is similar, and if so, that's what this show will be. His songs do often have a bluegrassy sounding influence.]


[Added on June 7th]

Jake keeps getting more and more impressive on the fiddle. Wow! This was also the first time I saw him with a whole band of his own. Well, sort of his own - they've all got other bands. Taylor Armerding of Northern Lights played mandolin, Flynn Cohen played guitar, someone named Corey who I hadn't seen before was on upright bass, and he had Christopher Williams with a minimal drum kit of kick, snare, hihat, crash, and occasional miscellaneous percussion. Yes, Christopher Williams. How'd Jake get him as a drummer? Very cool! Jake himself did about equal time on fiddle, guitar, and mandolin. It turned out to be kind of a bluegrass sound, though a lot of the songs were folk songs. Some mandolin duets with Taylor, a couple of superb instrumental tunes, and plenty of material from both his old and new albums. From what I heard at the show, the new album is similar to the first, and my favorite song from the first, Ithaca, got remixed for this one. The room was packed, the show was long, and the crowd would probably have stayed for another encore if the lights hadn't come on. A great show!
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Tags: christopher williams, jake armerding, judith edelman, northern lights, passim, review, story
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