Something is happening in addition to the band's virtuoso abilities, Shilling's full-throated vocals, and even beyond the remarkable abilities of banjoist and founder Barry Abernathy, who was born with only a thumb and an index finger stub on his left hand. That something involves the intersection of music, technology, and space. Bluegrass bands rarely record live albums, because at the low-tech venues where they tend to appear they're lucky to get even adequate sound. But a Mountain Heart show is different: it's a sophisticated audio enterprise, involving such devices as in-ear monitors, that takes time and expertise to set up. The band recorded its live album, Road That Never Ends, at the Ark in 2007, and you get the feeling that they do their best work at the club because they know the show is being done right.
Mountain Heart returns to the Ark on Friday, January 13.
[Originally published in January, 2012.]