Two bearded guys with fiddle and guitars playing bluegrass ain’t nothin’ new at the Americana Music Association, but Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott raise the bar—and cause more than a few glasses to be raised as well. Early on, they treated us to the title track of their new album, Memories and Moments, with O’Brien on fiddle and Scott on guitar. Personal and poignant, the lovely lyrics and deceptively simple tune set us up for a bluegrass singer/songwriter evening, a bubble that both men regularly burst with unexpected irreverence. O’Brien, for example, quipped, “k.d. lang also took up the banjo when she realized it was such a chick magnet.”
Bluegrass is all about loss, disappointment and hope, and there was plenty of all to be heard, from Hank Williams’ mournful “Alone and Forsaken,” with well-traded vocals, to O’Brien’s homage to rebirth, “Free Again.” Wearing matching bowlers in honor of John Hammond, Scott and O’Brien performed Hammond’s “Gentle on My Mind,” one of the few songs performed that was not on the upcoming album. “Keep Your Dirty Lights On,” a coal miner song in the best country tradition, found a welcome place on the album and in the show, as they sang, “If you’ve got money in your pocket and a switch on the wall, we’ll keep your dirty lights on.” Their music does everything music should: It makes us think, feel and tap our toes.
– Suzanne Cadgene