I experienced a flashback Saturday evening. Two musicians appeared on the stage. One was holding a guitar and the other a mandolin. The chatter of the people in the cafe stopped (some had to stand in a hallway, others had to go out to the door), and the musicians started playing. As they played, sweet bluegrassy goodness rose from the ground, creating smiles on everyone’s faces.
This happened four years back. The place was the Rosendale Cafe. And the band was The Hunger Mountain Boys. That was the first occasion I ever saw them. The Hunger Mountain Boys has added a third band member since then. Matt Downing would play upright bass. Interestingly, that was the same place where Matt played with the band. It was only one difference that could be seen between the show in 2004 as well as Saturday’s, but it wasn’t the only thing that had happened to the band and its members between then and now. The Hunger Mountain Boys had two new CDs out, Kip Beacco took a break from the band to have their second child, Adam Tanner was in charge of his absence. Teddy, Matt, and Bob Benson formed a trio called The Yellow House Jazz Band. Teddy also joined The Wiyos already formed band.
As the above information will show, I’ve always been a fan (and historian!) of the Hunger Mountain Boys. After finding their fourth CD “Fire the Retro Rockets” disappointing, I was happy to see that they can still deliver what makes them great. The result would be flawless vocals, and great playing. The Hunger Mountain Boys are tighter that a box-spring because of their tight singing and tight playing. They’re spitting out hot-pickin’ tracks like “Coming From the Ball”, and others like “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone”, as well as old-fashioned murder tunes like the “Frankie and Johnny”, and the “Frankie and Katie Dear” (which, although they haven’t performed in a while, is a favorite of mine), and they bring the same amazing musicianship to every word and note they play. It was also a very memorable concert for me on Saturday. Rosendale Cafe holds a special spot in my heart. This is because it is one of my favourite intimate music venues, not just in my immediate area, but throughout NY State. The Hunger Mountain Boys playing there was my first experience seeing them, and Matt Downing was there too. It was epic.
I am not a doctor but I would recommend The Hunger Mountain Boys to anyone who is suffering from depression. Although you don’t need to be depressed in order to see them, you will not be once you’ve heard three to four songs. Three hours of being trapped in a ridiculous grin for three consecutive hours made my cheeks ache on Saturday night. The workings of The Hunger Mountain Boys music are amazing. However, I did not like their last song on Saturday. This was the song they played for their encore. It was called “Show Me The Way Back Home.” It isn’t that the song doesn’t appeal to me, it’s just that I love it. The Hunger Mountain Boys sang it beautifully and they sound amazing. Why didn’t it appeal to me? I wanted to hear the band play for at least three more hours, and I didn’t want the route home to be shown. I don’t have to be critical of The Hunger Mountain Boys for this. I have no hatred for them.