Friday, January 11, 2008

Filling Rushad's big shoes

I had a chance during RiverCity to chat with Tristan Clarridge, the young fiddle and cello virtuoso who was performing with Darol Anger's Republic of Strings. Tristan fit in the gig between rehearsals and recording with his new band Crooked Still, where he has stepped into the big shoes belonging to Rushad Eggleston, the wild man of the new acoustic scene. [Photo: Tristan Clarridge with Republic of Strings.]

"There will be fewer pink suits on stage, but we'll have the same musical integrity," he said. Clarridge and Eggleston grew up together as musicians, as part of a cohort of string music prodigies, including Brittany and Natalie Haas and Clarridge's sister Tashina, who were nurtured by veteran artists Mark O'Connor, Alistair Fraser and Darol Anger, among others.

"Rushad's cello style started a revolution and many of us are following in his path," Clarridge said. Besides Clarridge's cello, the new Crooked Still includes Brittany Haas on fiddle. Casey Driessen will continue to sit in with the band when available, Clarridge said.

"We offer a big string texture," he said. "I like that there is space for every one to try out new ideas. And I like that we take traditional melodies and play with them."

Clarridge said the new band mates had spent several weeks in December arranging and rehearsing, and that he was flying out from Portland to join the band in a recording studio in upstate New York. The reconfigured Crooked Still begins touring in February, and will have its first big performances at Wintergrass in Tacoma WA in about six weeks.

A California native, Clarridge had resettled in Boston even before joining the Crooked Still, living with five other performers in what he calls a "music house." Besides joining Crooked Still and continuing with Republic of Strings, Clarridge is also part of New Old Stock, a quartet including his sister Tashina along with Wesley Corbett on banjo and Simon Chrisman on hammered dulcimer.

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