I hardly ever take advantage of the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, which offers free performances every day in a wide variety of art forms. On a whim, I went yesterday to check out Jayme Stone, a Canadian banjo player who explores worldwide folk traditions.
It was good! Stone wasn’t a banjo virtuoso (not that I’m complaining), but he had a killer band backing him up on interesting material. I was entertained and even amused at times, as the line-up generally took the form of a typical bluegrass band (banjo, guitar, bass, fiddle), but they obstinately ignored the bluegrass-y possibilities in favor of Bulgarian, Norwegian, Italian and similar traditions. Up until the very end, that is, when they finally let a little bluegrass out.
In some ways it was the exact kind of performance that the yuppie Kennedy Center crowds would eat up (Bach and bluegrass in the same performance!), but it was engaging and worthwhile. It fit well with my growing interest in folk and international music.
A minor resolution of mine is to take more advantage of these sorts of cultural events. Bonus: happy hour at the Kennedy Center until 6 p.m., i.e., just $2.50 for a beer. That is like three times cheaper than the 930 Club.
The performance by Jayme Stone, et al., is archived at the Kennedy Center’s website here.