Travers Chandler & Avery County, Colby Maddox & Sunnyside Up All Ages Member Picks Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., March 10, 8 p.m. 2012

Led by young mandolin virtuoso Travers Chandler, this superb Virginia bluegrass band takes inspiration from the genre's past on the recent State of Depression (Patuxent). As the album's title suggests, the songs don't bother with the beer-hoisting themes of post-80s country music—instead they grapple with life's intractable difficulties and tough decisions. On the opening track, "Black Dust Fever," Chandler decides that keeping his family fed is worth slowly killing himself by working in a coal mine. A take on Charlie Monroe's "Cotton Farmer" describes a farmer forced to give up his land to take factory work in the city, and a ripping cover of the Hank Williams Jr. honky-tonker "Stoned at the Jukebox" describes romantic misery with all the soulful pathos that the other tunes bring to economic troubles. Despite being only 31, Chandler has logged significant time with bluegrass heavies such as James King and Danny Paisley, and the other members of his quintet—fiddler Merl Johnson, bassist Jessica Smith, banjo player Terry McGill, and guitarist Eddie Gill—are also exceptional instrumentalists and solid harmonizers, bringing old-school energy without sounding like time travelers. This show opens the spring season of the always reliable Bluegrass Legends series. —Peter Margasak Colby Maddox & Sunnyside Up opens.

Price: $20

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