Midwinterfest 2019 - Day 2 The Lowly Strung
The Lowly Strung hailing from Kent immediately presented something different for Midwinterfest, for one thing this 5 piece played on the floor of the ballroom. Huddled around a big old BBC style microphone although standing a good foot back they did their thing. . With a set up of double bass, mandolin and fiddle, double bass, dobro and occasionally with the power of three people simultaneously in harmony They came with an Alan Cackett word of recommendation which was good enough for us to believe that we were in for a good time.
“Greener Grass” opened the set and from memory is the first appearance of a Bluegrass band at Midwinterfest. It's hard to convey just how invigorating and infectious their sound is. The next song was a Stray Birds song – “No part of nothin’” came complete with an excellent violin solo from Jonny Starks.
The follies of alcohol was examines on the Woods Brothers song “Firewater” – starting initially at a much slower pace, the lower volume letting you marvel at the harmonies as well as their choice of material. A couple of instrumentals were infectious good time music, even if it did make you feel like should be dancing round on the set of an old western!
The Wood & Wire song “Anne Marie” from the Lowly Strungs excellent debut album “No Tomfoolery” was a fast paced piece but made even more enjoyable made by the 3 part harmonies. The only original song of the set was a song about not having money “Where’s All My Money Gone” written when potless and giving us a timeless modern lyric over a bluegrass sound which is something they should certainly look to develop more. the stand out moment of the set once again showing great musical taste was the cover of a Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" – It saw Toby Starkes take the initial vocals, a slower quieter take, but absolutely beautiful with a great dobro solo from Malcolm Peet. It was not just a definite stand out moment of the set, but possibly among one of the top moments of the whole weekend and there is a lot of competition to beat to get that title!!
Another 2 song traditional medley, let you marvel as you watched the soloists on mandolin and dobro having to step forward close to the microphone to get their instruments higher in the mix – which just goes to what acoustic bands have to think about! A cover of Old Crow Medicine Show's "8 Dogs 8 Banjos" – with its vaguely complicated audience participation chorus proved to be a huge it with the Torquay crowd to the point that they received a standing ovation. Such was the appreciation then an encore was called for and only at that point did they find that BBC mic had been facing back to front!! 2 final instrumentals brought things to a close but it would not be the last sighting of the Lowly Strung across the w/e.