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Friday May 26, 2017
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Back Forty



The trouble is how to promote them. They describe their sound as "down-home funkgrass." That covers some of it. Young Colin Murphy's wicked breakdown fiddle on top of Jeff Friesen's resonant walking bass creates a potent stew, while elder statesman Dan Ripke's classic country compositions and warm, throaty singing easily transport us to a back porch in rural America.

But there's some serious rock 'n' roll here, too. Ripke and Andy Benes both play solid rock guitar — complete with wah-wah moments — and the whole band can jam somewhere in that Allman Brothers-Grateful Dead space. Even new wave, reggae, and world influences are obvious.

What holds it all together is the deep talent of each individual. They all play impressive solos and have something to say. They know their instruments well enough to let loose and see where their eclectic mix will take them. They don't always mesh seamlessly, but the jams never devolve into a mess. Sometimes they're downright transporting.

Benes often swaps his guitar for an electric mandolin, which he can coax way beyond bluegrass into punk and soul. Murphy's fast fiddling shines every time, though it is not quite as beautiful on the slow numbers; his sound is a little bright and tinny for romance. Ripke knows what oldsters like me enjoy — classic rock riffs that keep the younger musicians rooted.

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