Stir Fried, Last of the Blue Diamond Miners (Falbo Records 2000) - Get ready for Stir Fried and their take on the extended jam. With roots in the Bay Area (founding member John Markowski is the son of the 70's folk/rock artist, Thomas Jefferson Kaye), the band mixes folk, country, funk, and psychedelia to produce a jam-oriented sound that is in the vein of Rusted Root and Widespread Panic.
Stir Fried has been together for a decade, and includes a core band of John Markowski on vocals and guitar, Joanne Lediger on backing vocals, Buddy Cage (who has performed with such artists as Bob Dylan, Sly Stone, and The New Riders of the Purple Sage) on steel guitar and Jan London on guitar, Vincent Lorenzo on percussion, Juan Randall on bass, and Jimi Blackford on drums.
The polished touring unit is joined by Tony Trischka (Bela Fleck's teacher) on banjo, Jo Jo Hermann (from Widespread Panic) on piano, and old hand Vassar Clements (with more than two thousand recordings, in all genres imaginable, to his name) on fiddle.
The result is an organic whole, from "Nothin' To Do," with its fancy banjo pickings to the uptempo "The Door is Still Open" to "Let it Be Known," which opens with the sweet voice of Joanne Lediger before shifting into a countrified funk led by Dr. John on piano. And "Road Trip to Marist" draws from the leading exponents of this genre: The Grateful Dead.
This is classic live material, often difficult to capture on CD. Buddy Cage says, "As I recall, eleven tracks were laid down in two days! Live tracks! Incredibly, for any group of musicians to get this body of tunes 80% complete with this fantastic energy is magic in my experience."
If you're into the good-timey extended jam, built around an electrified country and folk sound, look for Last of the Blue Diamond Miners.
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- Randy Krbechek © 2001