I like to think of myself as an all sorts of country fan. Furthermore I would like to think I am also very open to what the bluegrass world has to offer as well. But when I was told about Kind Country’s show at First Avenue this month and I saw the lineup a part of me stopped. Then, thought “who on earth names their band the Pistol Whippin Party Penguins?. I still don’t have a full answer to that mind you but I did learn that that the bands at First Ave Saturday night can jam. Foot stomping fiddle solos, banjos, something called an “electronic” upright bass, and big ole belt buckles were all on the agenda. And whether you are a casual listener or have been in the genre a while and follow some of the more entrenched groups you would be hard pressed not to have fun listening to these groups. They’re pure musicians and there is no BS pomp or pageantry with these bands just good music and a fun atmosphere that makes you wish it was July and you had the sun and a cold beer. And ideally some BBQ in reaching distance maybe.
First on the evening was Stringdingers. A band which you may have a hard time finding if you go looking for them on any streaming service. Because? the artwork they used for their album is from one of the band members when they were five. So yea, that kids drawing album you may be looking at on Spotify right now IS them. Stringdingers are for a lack of a better term, pure. In that they are the music you’d want to show up to a country fair for and dance to till you couldn’t stand. Their stage presence and energy are just hard to not get sucked into as they’re just having a good time and their thanks to the crowd and fans at large during the set was testament. If’ you’re looking for a couple tracks to get acquainted with Stringdingers I would check out Could It be, Different Kind of Ride, and Coffee. They’re probably my favorites and the most fun tracks to listen to though their entire album could easily be thrown on and listened through without a skip.
Next up to bat, errr…. something like that. Pistol Whippin Party Penguins. I seem to find myself digging into band names more and more recently. I am not sure if this is just my perspective on bands as a whole changing and my desire to understand taking the drivers seat or what. But I had to know. As many others may be wondering. The band’s name was simply the product, like many other bands, of needing a name for a show where they couldn’t show up without a name. Which honestly I find hilarious and totally relate-able. If I was forced to name my own band it would end up being some similar and I appreciate the humor in their no flare sense of humor about who they are. Embracing their award for Worst Name of a band and all. If Stringdingers make you want to dance and hit a county fair with your significant other then the Penguins(shorthand sorry I cannot keep typing that one) will up the game a bit. They follow right in line with Stringdingers and add in more lyrics plus a bit more stage banter, a trademark of theirs it would seem. A couple of my favorites and suggestions from the Penguins would have to include Dance Around, I’ve Just Seen A Face, and Imma Maker Happy. Ok, the last on purely because the name makes me laugh. But all good tracks and will give you a quick taste of their style and help you decide if you may join their next gathering.
Now, the reason for my visit on this weekend, Kind Country. First I must be upfront that I had some bias coming into this evening. I know a member of the Kind Country band from years passed when I was still a choir kid. But my bias went out the window when the music started. My girlfriend and I had jumped on board to see the show when we reconnected with our old choir mate but we didn’t know what to expect. Well, pardon my saying, but Kind Country kicks ass live. As fun and energetic as their music is when you listen to their live albums it cannot hold a candle to in person. The night was full of happy dancing and good tunes but it took off after Kind Country got on stage and more than a few times we looked at one another and though wow, they’re pretty damn good. Now, admittedly I am a sucker for some fiddle solos so Chris(the old choir mate) had my interest when I spoke to the band previously. And Kind Country has some of those fiddle jams, but the band as a whole plays off each other so well I feel like they played a solid 10 minute song a few times where they just traded off spotlight continuously. Every member playfully outdoing the last with a faster and higher range of scales than the last and my hands began to hurt with memories of my brief attempt to be a “guitar player” before I chose the camera instead.
It may be obvious but these bands sold me on my need to check out more bluegrass this summer. Which, sidenote, Revival Festival is coming and they’ll be there so I would check that out as well. The night with Kind Country and friends was pure joy and the amount of people dancing through First Ave was of the likes I hadn’t seen in some time. If you’re into Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers, or just bluegrass and jam bands I would give all these guys a shot of good listening soon. A good sunny day, a good drink, and let the tunes roll because I doubt you’ll ever feel the need to hit skip on them.
Unfortunately I had a very early call time for another gig on Saturday so we missed Useful Jenkins set that started around.