Friday, January 02, 2009

Claire Lynch in East Hartford January 9 - Preview

Claire Lynch

The Clair Lynch Band will appear at the East Hartford Cultural Community Center in East Hartford, CT on Friday, January 9th. Doors open at 7:00 PM, and the concert begins at 8:00. Tickets are pegged at $15.00 in advance and $20.00 at the gate, and plenty of seats are still available. The band, a quartet whose bluegrass sound is laced with a delightful variety of musical signatures, is noted for its musicality and its excellence. Roger Moss, Director of Parks and Recreation in East Hartford, CT promotes a series of Americana events as a part of the East Hartford Community Cultural Center winter program of concerts and films. Roger tells me the concert hall seats 298 without a bad seat in the house and featuring outstanding acoustics. Easy parking for the event is available and the hall is just off an interchange of I-84. Directions to the East Hartford Cultural Center can be found here. Tickets can be ordered on line here.

With two feet planted firmly in bluegrass, Claire Lynch’s interests and versatility take her comfortably into country, Americana with a tinge of jazz, swing, and blues in her compositions and her performances. Her career, spanning thirty-five years, includes stints with several bands and working as a house singer/songwriter with Universal-Polygram where her name appears on 160 projects, if I’m counting right. She’s been nominated for a couple of Grammies and was named IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year in 1997. Many of her songs are immediately familiar to bluegrass fans as is her youthful, clear, and expressive voice. Her signature songs include the recent hit “The Day that Lester Died,” “Hills of Alabam’”, and the yearning “Kennesaw Line.” Her version of “Wabash Cannonball” gives the entire band a chance to strut its stuff while always staying true to the great country original made famous by Roy Acuff.

Spending the early part of her life in Kingston, NY, Claire Lynch moved to Alabama at age twelve. She worked with a band, took time off to raise a family, and along the way worked as a song writer and session vocalist. Her songs have been recorded by Patty Loveless, Seldom Scene, Kathy Mattea, and the Whites, while she has appeared on albums with EmmyLou Harris, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and others. She achieved prominence with the Front Porch String Band, which, after a time, disbanded as bluegrass bands do, and later founded the Claire Lynch Band with many of the same members. Recently, her kids grown and fledged, she has moved to Nashville for the convenience of being in the center of the music scene. While there have been changes in personnel, the current band is as strong as any she has had.

Jim Hurst

Jim Hurst, a long-time band mate, is one of the monster guitar pickers in music as well as being a fine banjo player. Hurst, while active in music, for many years had to continue providing for himself and his family as a truck driver. When his wife urged him to move to Nashville and take on music full time, they did and he did. Jim Hurst was named IBMA guitar player of the year in 2001 and 2002. His career had been broad and varied with stints in jazz, country, and bluegrass. Hurst is not merely a spectacular guitar player, he’s spectacularly tasteful, too, reflecting his debt to Doc Watson as well as to Tony Rice. Jim is on his second go round with Claire, having taken a period to tour and record with Missy Raines to high critical and popular praise, before they both returned to the Claire Lynch Band. Missy has since left the band again to form Missy Raines and the New Hip.

Jim Hurst

Mark Schatz
To replace Missy Raines, Claire has turned to two time IBMA bass player of the year, Mark Schatz. A graduate of Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia with additional study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Schatz has had a distinguished career in bluegrass, acoustic, and country music on acoustic and electric bass. He’s played with Bela Fleck as well as the Tony Rice Unit. He played bass with Nickel Creek until they disbanded and has since been touring with the Claire Lynch Band. On stage, Mark is a dynamic figure in his bass play as well as when he steps out from behind his instrument to clog. As musical director of the Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, an internationally acclaimed dance group, he has many outlets for his creative urge.
Mark Schatz

Jason Thomas
Jason Thomas, on mandolin, fiddle, and vocals, brings an added versatility to the band. Born in North Bay, Ontario, Jason has been based in Florida as a full-time musician since finishing college in Missouri. In addition to his work with the Claire Lynch Band, Jason plays with several bands in Florida. His play on both mandolin and fiddle adds enormously to the strength and versatility of the band. He’s a quiet yet dynamic presence in this very strong band.

In a telephone interview, Claire spoke expressively and enthusiastically about her band, its personnel, and the joy she takes in performance. All these qualities are clearly evident in this fine band. Friday, January 9th might be chilly outside, but the concert hall at the East Hartford Cultural Community Center will be warm and filled with joyous song provided by these dynamic performers. Don’t miss it.


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