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Saturday November 22, 2014
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Laurie Lewis

 

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act and getting a master class of sorts with the headliner. Lewis lived in Ann Arbor for a time when she was a girl, and there are still apparently people around the county who remember her; when I saw her play at Manchester's Riverfolk Festival a few years ago, she delivered a crack set and drew a crowd of admirers to her tent afterward in the buggy late-summer heat.

Lewis is a perfect choice for the Saline event: she mixes traditional fiddling with contemporary ideas, blending old-time music and progressive styles in a way that supports her often profound songwriting ideas. It was Lewis's songwriting that I noticed first, when I was listening to WDET's bluegrass show on the road and heard the couplet "You won't drop the stance of a pugilist/But you can't reach for help with your hand in a fist." Lewis has an incredible knack for working modern themes, some of them of an environmentalist cast, into purely traditional structures. One of her best and most celebrated songs is "The Maple's Lament," a fiddle-based number gradually revealing that it is written from the point of view of the wood in a fiddle itself. The wood ties the resonances of its music to the natural world of which it was once a part.

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