Spirited & diverse music touches, entertains & energizes an audience
Playing Time – 25:16 -- Formed in 2003, Boulder Acoustic Society’s sound has been evolving for four years, but they continue to focus on one goal – keep their audiences smiling with music that touches and energizes them. The band’s seed was first planted when Kailin Young (fiddle) and Brad Jones (guitar) got together to jam on street corners in Boulder, Co. Within a few months, Aaron Keim (bass, ukelele, steel guitar) was in the band. By early 2004, Scott McCormick (accordion) was invited to develop the band into a “neo-acoustic” quartet with plenty of roots music sensibilities. Boulder Acoustic Society (or just “BAS” as they’re affectionately known) have released two albums prior to “Now.” They tour far and wide and even took second place at the 2006 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest.
At only 25 minutes, “Now” is short, but it’s still a nice showcase of their musical diversity. A classic jazz standard like “Lullaby of Birdland” sits comfortably into a repertoire that also includes the likes of Latin (Tico Tico), original (Daddy’s Got A Jake Leg, Hatchback Blues), and traditional (Gospel Plow, My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It). Originally written by Maori composer Maewa Kaihau about 1920, “Now is the Hour” became more than just a New Zealand folk song when Bing Crosby recorded it in 1947. “Tico Tico” is arranged for two ukeleles and fiddle. “Does it Really Matter” is a pleasant instrumental offering that also includes Greg Schochet’s mandolin. The four primary band members share lead vocalist duties, but it is Aaron Keim who does the majority of lead singing. If there’s one disappointment, it’s the scarcity of harmony vocals until the closer, “My Bucket’s Got A Hole in It,” that has a party-like atmosphere with the quartet embellished by Greg Schochet (banjo mandolin), Ryan Drickey (fiddle), Scott Higgins (washboard), Brett Billings (harmonica), and Ellen Yong and Rhonda Smith (vocals).
I enjoyed hearing the versatile ukelele used prominently in string band music of this rootsy type. The positive instrumental mix imparts a sense of luster and charm. Whether playing jazz, swing, blues, ragtime, jug band or original music, the Boulder Acoustic Society simply illustrates a healthy respect and fondness for it all. Boundaries imposed by the various genres don’t constrain them. String chameleons have broad-based musical interests, and I sense that their prime directive is to present an eclectic set that entertains. BAS’ diversity is the glue that binds their identity together. I wouldn’t say they’re particularly twisted, but they do like new interpretive twists. As a result, their young fans in the audience are tuning in and making connections with the impressionable music that is largely from another bygone era. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)