Austin, Texas, SXSW 2005
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Opal Divine's Freehouse, Wednesday, March 16
Not even Doyle Lawson could say when he played in Austin last, but after this showcase, he'll likely be back sooner rather than later. Lawson is a superstar on today's bluegrass scene, considered one of the top mandolin players in the genre. Along with his band Quicksilver, he gave an all-too-brief taste of just why that's the case. Concentrating on material from their new Rounder disc, You Gotta Dig a Little Deeper, Quicksilver covered the full range of their bluegrass, which is heavy on gospel, but also features some of the finest picking around. Especially noteworthy was the work of banjo player Terry Baucom, admired for his inventive, propulsive style. That's not to lessen the playing of Lawson, who's now over 60, but hasn't lost one step when it comes to picking fancy. In the middle of the set, the band laid its instruments down for two a cappella numbers that revealed exquisite five-part harmonies on "John the Revelator," which focused the rowdy crowd's attention in a flash. Lawson remained typically humble throughout, but the raucous audience reaction to the best bluegrass band at this year's SXSW was righteously well-earned.