Aoife O’Donovan was not well-rested on the morning of July 16, 2006, when Crooked Still took the Grey Fox stage.
Speaking between songs, the singer said the previous night had been her first camping at a bluegrass festival and described as heavenly the experience of falling asleep to the sounds of Abigail Washburn playing just outside her tent. And though she was tired, that didn’t stop O’Donovan, bassist Corey DiMario, banjoist Greg Liszt and cellist Rushad Eggleston from putting on a high-energy set at Grey Fox, their second in as many days.
The quartet’s entire 10-song performance was just issued as Live at Grey Fox, July 16, 2006, and includes crooked versions of old-timey tracks like “The Last Fair Deal Gone Down,” “Old Virginia,” “Lulu Gal,” “Orphan Girl” and “I’m So Lonely I Could Cry”
Available only as a bonus disc that accompanies the first vinyl release of 2006’s Shaken by a Low Sound, this is worth the purchase even for folks who don’t own a turntable. And for those who do, the audiophile version of Shaken is a remarkable addition to any record collection.
Live at Grey Fox is a soundboard recording with all the banter left in place. O’Donovan, as is her wont, sings like a bird as the band plays peerlessly behind her. With its unique instrumentation, Crooked Still made a unique sound as Liszt and Eggleston displayed their uncanny ability to connect with – and detach from – DiMario at will to create a free-wheeling rhythm section whose membership was dependent upon who was soloing at any particular time.
The instrumentals “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” (Earl Scruggs) and “Blackberry Blossom” (Tony Rice) provide the sleepy O’Donovan a late-set respite and are delightful in their own right. But Crooked Still sound most like Crooked Still when O’Donovan’s at the mic.