Sarah Jarosz at the Walnut Room, 7/25/12 (photos and review) - Reverb

Sarah Jarosz at the Walnut Room, 7/25/12 (photos and review)

Bluegrass multi-instrumentalist and singer Sarah Jarosz loves the Centennial state. “Colorado is one of my favorite places to play,” she said at the Walnut Room Wednesday night. “In fact, I don’t think a summer could be complete unless we played in Colorado.”

Jarosz first played the RockyGrass main stage as an 11- or 12-year-old, singing a cover of “Shenandoah” for a short tweener set after one of the promoter’s kids heard Jarosz playing in the campground during the RockyGrass Academy (a week-long school that happens before the festival), and then brought her over to play for her father. Since then, Jarosz has played RockGrass twice. Jarosz still has those roots, and during her set last night, she stated that she and her backing band, violinist Alex Hargreaves and cellist Nathaniel Smith, hoped to sneak up to Lyons for some late-night campground picking after the show (the Academy is happening this week).

Jarosz’s music blends a variety of influences, including Appalachian, Celtic, country and western, and even some jazz stylings. She found a groove early Wednesday night, opening with the haunting lament “Tell Me True” from her first album.

Switching instruments as much as styles, Jarosz wove a spell with her voice over the audience on “Run Away,” and her picking kept pace with her singing all night, whether it was clawhammer banjo on “Left Home,” fingerpicked guitar on a cover of Paul Simon’s “Kathy’s Song,” or a brilliant octave mandolin solo on the instrumental “Old Smitty.”

Her bandmates proved equally adept, as Hargreaves’ fiddle playing danced in and out around Jarosz’s mandolin playing on a slinky cover of “The Book of Right On,” while Smith’s brilliant, aggressive cello playing drove the instrumental “Mansinneedof.”

One of the highlights of the set was “Broussard’s Lament,” as a string arrangement from Smith and Hargreaves under Jarosz’s soaring vocal created a percussive, desperate feel.

Jarosz’s adaption of the Edgar Allen Poe ballad “Annabelle Lee” closed the set off in fine style. On her encore, she dedicated her cover of Bob Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells” to the victims of the Aurora shooting, then had the audience sing along on the choruses to the rip-roaring “Come On Up To The House.”

Coloradan Patrick Dethlefs, who will play at Swallow Hill on Aug. 8, opened the evening some breathtaking fingerpicking on “Another Colorado Song.”

Setlist

Tell Me True, Left Home, Run Away, Come Around, My Muse, The Book of Right On, Mansinneedof, Kathy’s Song, Red Dog in the Morning, Broussard’s Lament, Here Nor Now, Old Smitty, The Way You Look Tonight, Song Up in My Head, Annabelle Lee, E: Ring Them Bells, Come On Up to the House

Follow our news and updates on Twitter, our whereabouts on Foursquare and our relationship status on Facebook. Or send us a telegram.

Candace Horgan is a Denver freelance writer/photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. When not writing and shooting, she plays guitar and violin in Denver band Black Postcards.

  • Billy Shears

    The pic of the set list also shows “Shankill Butchers” and “Floating in the Balance.” Were these not played?

    • Rocker Chick

       No, they were taken off during the show.