The North Country - There is a very large and energized crowd here tonight for the twin-band late bill following an earlier folk show. This local four-piece comes on to high expectations and quickly lives up to them. They feature vocals and guitar, bass, drums, and a violin. I have seen Andrew Grossman at a solo gig and came away impressed. Now, with the full band, it is even better. His songs and vocal work are quite strong in more of a folk-rock than alt country vein. The drumming is quick, but does not dominate while the violin is fascinating, especially when he snaps off playful plucking patterns. They are able to bring the volume and pace down and pull the crowd in or they can jam along creatively, causing a desire for even further stretching. This band could follow the same path of a band like Lost in the Trees has, and could easily pick up all of their fans and then some. If you like indie-Americana rock, you should certainly give this band a test drive some time soon.
The Last Bison - I see even Wikipedia compared this Chesapeake, Virginia band to the Fleet Foxes, which is one of the first items in my notes. Not only are the three part harmonies a wonderful part of their sound (one female voice in this version), but the songs are also in a similar vein, especially one that lifts the main melodic line of "Your Protector". But since I love that song, I would encourage other bands to latch on to that as well. Aside from that, there were tons of original moves, and an overall sound that was unique enough to the indie scene. There are light guitars, banjos or mandolin with lots of drums, percussion and strings (cello and violin going non-stop). A little glock and other instruments pop in and out and there is an intriguing space in the songs for the vocals to soar around in with plenty of energy and pace keeping the songs flowing with purpose. I even detected a similarity to a an old German prog-folk band, Parsifal, with strong vocals and intense nearly gothic melodies. Although this band is young to the scene, they are quickly becoming a big time player and it is easy to see why. The music is gripping and fun and the crowd was filled with fans that did not instruction or encouragement for singing along or clapping or whatever. The packed house at the Jammin Java got their money's worth tonight.
Plug of the Night - I mentioned it in the record reviews, but if you want to see coverage of the worldwide folk scene (covering blues, indie rock, gypsy punk-folk, worldbeats, etc) in four languages, no less, check out issue 49 of Folkworld. There is even a lot of DC in there, too.