If You Go
What: Bluegrass concert, with voluntary donations accepted to adopt a giraffe for the Naples Zoo. Claire Lynch headlines, with Frontline Bluegrass as the opening act.
Where: Cambier Park Band Shell, 8th Street and 6th Avenue South, downtown Naples
When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday
Admission: Free; donations accepted for zoo giraffe
The musical genre known as bluegrass is a relatively recent stylistic development in musical history, having first come to the fore after World War II. It was and is difficult to define, because, at its core, it combines elements of country, ragtime and jazz.
And as bluegrass has reached its widest audience yet, even while the music has become more complex. At the forefront of contemporary bluegrass artistry is Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Claire Lynch, who will appearing in concert at Cambier Park on Saturday.
Lynch, who moved from Kingston, N.Y., to northern Alabama at the age of 12, had a passion for this music from a young age. She joined a band called Hickory Wind, later known as the Front Porch String band, and they recorded and toured regularly until 1981.
At that juncture, she became more involved in writing and work as a session vocalist. The names of stars she has backed on records could fill volumes, including Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Linda Rondstadt, Kathy Mattea and Patty Loveless.
Then, the Front Porch String Band re-formed in 1991, leading to a Rounder Records recording contract and several Grammy nominations. In 2004, Claire Lynch went solo, again recording for Rounder, forming the Claire Lynch band.
She describes her latest effort, “Whatcha Gonna Do,” as “Americana-inflected bluegrass,” and the audience will certainly hear some tunes from it. Some of them doubtlessy already have: “Whatcha Gonna Do” took the No. 1 spot on the January 2010 BMP national bluegrass CD chart and was included in several “Top Pick” CD lists for 2009.
“We were the rebellious young ones that were the punk of bluegrass. To me, it’s happening all over again,” she recalls of her successes.
Her own influences are “Swing, folk, country. Not very much klezmer. Not that I don’t love it or that there’s anything wrong with that. I like any kind of a strong acoustic music. I like all music.”
“But I wrote on Music Row for seven years. I’ve been in the country machine. I went through songwriting school there. So, I’ve been so indoctrinated into country and I’ve had my education.” Writer Jon Weisberger of the Nashville Scene described her as “one of the classiest acts in bluegrass today, capable of turning bona fide classics into her own, even as she pays homage to the brilliance of her originals.”
Russ Morrison, organizer of the event and a member of Frontline Bluegrass, who open for Lynch, is especially happy about her current sound.
“Her bands are always tops in quality players and quality singing,” he says. “She has a terrific band now, and you can always count on Claire Lynch and the Claire Lynch Band to come through with some of the best bluegrass entertainment you will ever witness.
“The new guitar player is an awesome player and a great singer, Mark Schatz. I’m pleased that we were able to get them here, and I’m sure the crowd will be pleased as well.”
This event, like most Cambier Park concerts, is free. But Morrison emphasizes that those in attendance, in addition to having the chance to hear world class music, can also make a difference. A $10 voluntary donation during the concert will go toward “adopting” a giraffe for the Naples Zoo.