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In concert: Tony Trischka

Tony TrischkaTony Trischka played songs from throughout his 40-year career at Jammin' Java Wednesday.

By Juli Thanki

"Sorry we're late; we'd have been here earlier but it turns out your Beltway has traffic."

After this tongue in cheek apology to the Jammin' Java crowd for beginning 10 minutes past his scheduled start time, banjo master Tony Trischka delivered two sets of what he called "more or less bluegrass," occasionally dabbling in folk, blues, and jazz as he interspersed melodic midtempo originals such as "Escher's Waltz" with breakneck bluegrass standards like "Wheel Hoss."

(Backing band shines, after the jump.)

Trischka, one of the most influential banjo players who's still recording (he taught virtuoso Bela Fleck), played a collection of songs that spanned his 40-year career, including an intricate medley of songs composed on a single string of his well worn banjo and several selections from his Grammy nominated "Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular.

Accompanying Trischka was a stellar three piece band. Barely legal Mike Barnett was impressive on "Sally Goodin" and other fiddle tunes, but it was guitarist and lead singer Michael Daves who nearly stole the show. Daves, a Bill Monroe soundalike in Buddy Holly glasses, reached castrato heights on the murder ballad "Darling Cory" and a series of Monroe classics.

The 61-year old, soft-spoken Trischka charmed the crowd with gentle humor, at one point musing "we're in Vienna; we should do a Strauss waltz." After a bit of reminding from the audience about the song's melody, he began a truncated version of "Blue Danube." The two hour performance ended far too soon; appropriately, the quartet's final song was a cover of Flatt and Scruggs' "Farewell Blues."

By David Malitz  |  February 18, 2010; 2:08 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Tony Trischka  
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