The women of Della Mae kick off their latest with a version of the traditional “Bowling Green” followed by Lester Flatt’s “Head Over Heels,” firmly establishing their commitment to bluegrass and eliminating any doubt about whether they’re simply an all-girl gimmick band.
The members of Della Mae are so well-matched it doesn’t matter if the band’s formation was a marketing ploy – the end result is straightforward, expertly executed music that stays true to its inspirations and which has so much going for it that the band is going to attract both bluegrass fans and those who haven’t as yet given that music deserved attention. The band includes two-time Grand National Fiddle Champion Kimber Ludiker, two-time winner of the Washington Area Music Association’s Best Folk Instrumentalist Award guitarist Avril Smith, bassist Amanda Kowalski (Tony Trischka, Bela Fleck) banjoist Grace Van’t Hof, and session player and Jenni Lyn Gardner on mandolin, each of whom could go toe-to-toe with just about anyone (especially Smith and Gardner) as players or singers.Gardneralso wrote “Blues Have Got Me Down,” a tune which shows Della Mae to be operating in the upper tier of contemporary bluegrass with groups like the Gibson Brothers and Cherryholmes.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.
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