Boulder Acoustic Society October 22, 2008
By Glen Creason
Some of the very best music you will hear in Cerritos occurs at the terrific
Sierra Nights series which is the alter-ego of the big, demanding shows in the hall across the theater. The Sierra setting is intimate and inducive to smaller groups and more daring attempts at music veering from the center line of genres. This week the peripatetic Colorado quartet called the “Boulder Acoustic Society” filled the space with some wild and wooly action that crossed many a musical line and bounced from folk to blues to old-timey roots music to R&B ballads to gypsy czardas and back again. Sometimes it all came together nicely in one song! The Boulder boys are charmingly disorganized on stage but decidedly serious about eclectic song choices and lively blends of standup bass, accordion, banjo, ukulele, percussion and fired up electric fiddle. What they lacked in billboard sized speaker volume or smoke machines they made up for in truly unique material. This is a thoroughly affable, casual and instrumentally talented band.
The first set established the sound that was one part Gid Tanner and the Skillet-lickers, one part Incredible String Band and several parts hard to describe. Vocals are shared mostly by bassist Aaron Keim and accordionist Scott McCormack who looked very much like dwellers in the people’s republic of Boulder. Yet those who apparently have spent more time exploring American music’s back roads than hanging out on the champagne powder slopes. Keim’s baritone gives texture to much of the music but McCormick is the man for the high notes. Young Scott Aller is the busy percussionist, not just drummer since he adds a lot of color to the soundscapes sometimes created by the band. However, the violin of the rather elegantly dressed Kailin Yong is essential here diving in and out of melodies and truly vaulting over the normal barriers between musical styles. While the band may not be serious in their patter they really do travel the path not taken and the one here gave us up-tempo folksy stuff like “Jake Leg Blues” or “Slip Baby Slip” or “the high octane “Give It Away” that had the full crowd actually nodding their heads in time. There were surprising choices tweaked to the hybrid sound including a caffeinated “Maggie’s Farm,” the strangely compelling “Cruel Monkey” and a very nice “Aint No Sunshine” that wasn’t all that sad for a farewell ballad.
There were also some well done traditionals like “the Light and the Dust,” “Gospel Plow,” and “Trying to Get Home” including the long and rewarding fiddle solo by Yong that was truly amazing. However, within the evening of merriment and old time story telling Scott McCormick’s pair of ballads “Until Then” and “Take My Hand” were beautifully done and could well have saved the bacon of a lesser show. The Boulder Acoustic Society says they drove through a Colorado blizzard to get to Cerritos and those of us in the Sierra Room were damn glad they did.