The terms “instrument swapping” and “communal guitar” take on new meaning when the Corn Potato String Band come to town. Even their name threatens to change, into Corn Potato Swing Band, as Aaron Jonah Lewis, Lindsay McCaw and Ben Belcher delve into the history of American roots music and share their varyingly honest, homespun and virtuosic findings from the tune that was Abraham Lincoln’s favourite through the New Mexican wave, ragtime, Hank and Slim to their own Route 77, a rare original in two dedicatedly researched and lovingly delivered sets.
In among all that there was heartfelt and harmonious yodelling, rhythmically swinging and musically propellant square dancing from McCaw and a Russian Rag where fiddles and banjo brought both flavours suggested in the title together into something resembling Cossack bluegrass. A fun and enriching evening that even had something for the twitchers in the audience in the shape of the generously bearded Lewis’ compendious and mirthful birdsong impersonations – on fiddle.
Seven Sons provided a wonderful support slot and proved to be the perfect pairing to the headline act. I was delighted that Ruth and Clayr’s harmonies were as charming as I remembered from a lucky night when I happened upon one of their performances 18 months earlier. Supported by fiddler Barry Nisbet and the dobro of Bill Rennie there was an honest purity in the presentation of their songs.