Rockin' Acoustic Circus

Lonestar Lullabye

by David Maine

9 February 2011


Bluegrass for the future

cover art

Rockin' Acoustic Circus

Lonestar Lullabye

(Flying Weasel Records)
US: 14 Sep 2010
UK: 19 Oct 2010

Generally speaking, you don’t listen to bluegrass for the innovations. As proponents of a musical form that takes tradition very seriously indeed, bluegrass musicians are expected to know their finger-pickin’ stuff, keep the arrangements tight, respect the history of the genre and leave to Vocoders to somebody else. The danger in this, of course, is that music risks becoming mummified: tunes that are only heard, and played, by people who already know them.

Well, there seems little danger of that on Lonestar Lullabye. Rockin’ Acoustic Circus is five teenagers and one old dude (not really old, but y’know, relatively speaking) who play fairly immaculate bluegrass tunes on the expected array of acoustic guitars, mandolins, fiddles, banjos and upright bass. It would be condescending to say that for a bunch of kids, they’re pretty darn good. Fact is, they’re darn good, period. If Emma Hardin’s vocals fall a little flat on “Skatin’ in the Rain”, the band makes up for it on the rock-solid instrumental “Bethany,” in which Eric Dysart and Sterling Abernathy trade fiddle and mandolin licks, before Emma weighs in with her solo cello and all is forgiven.

Elsewhere the vocals are stronger, as on the saucy, swinging ballad “I Gotta Run,” and everywhere, the musicianship is always at least competent and often much more than that. “Money in the Bank”, another instrumental tune, lopes along like a coyote chasing a tumbleweed (did I really just write that?), while “The Tracker” opts for a softer, slower touch. Rockin’ Acoustic Circus shows that, while bluegrass may be a genre in touch with its past, it’s got a strong claim on the future as well.

Lonestar Lullabye


Topics: bluegrass
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.

//Mixed media

Call for Music Writers... Hip-Hop, Soul, Electronic, Rock, Indie, Americana, Jazz, World and More

// Announcements

"PopMatters is looking for smart music writers. We're looking for talented writers with deep genre knowledge of music and its present and…

READ the article