Classic Clips: The Punch Brothers, Watchhouse and Sarah Jarosz play ‘Wildfire’ at the Green Mountain Bluegrass Festival 2022

The mandolin has been a favourite instrument of mine since I first heard Chris Hillman play with The Hillmen at the beginning of the 60s.

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival has always been a happy hunting ground for mandolin fans and my trip to the 2016 festival was no exception. Aside from Sam Bush leading the house band, there were eight or nine bands with superb mandolinists including Ronnie McCoury, Tim O’Brien and Sierra Hull.  And there was also the brilliant progressive mandolin experimentalist, Chris Thile (Nickel Creek) leading The Punch Brothers and the softer more folksy Andrew Marlin of the duo Mandolin Orange (subsequently re-named Watchhouse).

On the same trip I lucked out a few days later with a gig at The Kennedy Center in Washington where Chris Thile was performing one of the first of his American Acoustic series of concerts, which included the relatively new I’m With Her (with Sarah Jarosz on mandolin).  The ‘series’ toured in 2017 and then disappeared.

Fast forward to 2022 when the series was resurrected and toured the US again, including The Green Mountain Bluegrass and Roots Festival, which produced this version of Marlin’s brilliant ‘Wildfire’ from the Watchhouse album ‘Blindfaller’, a polemic about racism in the US south and the sparks that trigger revolution. Aside from the brilliant mandolin trio, check out also the wonderful Emily Frantz on fiddle and vocals, Noam Pikelny on banjo and Gabe Witcher on fiddle.  Enjoy!

About FredArnold 36 Articles
Lifelong fan of predominantly US (and Canadian) country roots music. Previously an avid concert-goer before wives, kids and dogs got in the way- and although I still try to get to several, my preference for small independent venues often means standing, and that ain't too good for my ancient bones!! Still, a healthy and catholic music collection helps ease the pain

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