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John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band 08:07:14

Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne

Wimborne’s credentials as a hotbed of Americana appreciation took a giant leap forwards last night as one of bluegrass banjo’s greatest living exponents Herb Pedersen complimented the audience for remembering British folk duo Chad and Jeremy, leading lights of the original British Invasion.

“They didn’t even know that in London,” he says, impressed.

It was that kind of night. A generous and fully appreciative audience, clearly well aware they were in the company of musical giants, spurred on four wonderful musicians to instinctively push themselves beyond their comfort zone of absolute excellence. Eventually their instrumental interplay and astonishing three-part harmonies transcended the band’s collective CV, no mean feat when you consider that includes the likes of Bob Dylan, Elton John, Pavarotti, Bonnie Raitt, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Brown, Dolly Parton and Earl Scruggs.

De facto bandleader Jorgenson and banjo maestro Pedersen, who founded the legendary Desert Rose Band with former Byrds’ bassist Chris Hillman, play in beautifully opposing styles. While Jorgenson dashes off blistering runs and solos on his mandolin, fingers a-blur, Pedersen’s economy of movement on the five-string banjo belies the torrent of notes that cascade from the instrument. A breathless treatment of the nursery rhyme Grandfather’s Clock is a supercharged bluegrass masterclass, but no less impressive than Herb’s delicately plotted love song Wait A Minute.

Their interchanges are underpinned and augmented by in-demand double bassist Mark Fain and guitarist Jon Randall, warmly welcomed into the spotlight to sing his own Die Tryin’ a co-write with the legendary Guy Clark) and the desperately emotional Whiskey Lullaby, a hit for Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss.

But for all the skill and finesse on show, this was primarily a night of high lonesome feelings, of heartfelt music expertly delivered and warmly received. Let’s hope the boys make good on their promise to return.

Nick Churchill