Masefield, Perkins and Bolles – Legends in the UV

Check out some Musical Legends this Weekend!

Music in the Upper Valley

Friday, December 9, 2016 by Michael Cyr


While we often spend our time taking a broad look at the shows all around the Upper Valley, there is a show happening this weekend with such an impressive collection of musicians that it deserves a deeper dive.

Swinging by the Skinny Pancake Hanover this Saturday are three of the finest musicians in Vermont, if not the entirety of New England: Jamie Masefield, Doug Perkins and Tyler Bolles. Each of these musicians has a colorful career in their own right, which I dig into below. But the key to understanding their genius as a group is to hear them together: their performance together harkens the collective consciousness of tight-knit groups like Hall & Oates, Crosby, Stills & Nash or the Grateful Dead. After numerous gigs playing together, their intuitive understanding of each other’s musical trajectory is undeniable. They finish each other’s musical sentences, embellish each others’ phrasings, grow and quiet their dynamics with the coordination of two legs walking from the same torso. Their combined style is perhaps best described as jazzgrass…influences of Django Rheinhart, David Grisman and Doc Watson litter their shows.

Let’s take a minute to look under the hood of these individual players…

Tyler Bolles is an absolute dynamo of a bass player, but you wouldn’t know it when you met this humble dude. While he’ll be playing the upright variety this Saturday, he can also rock out with strapped up, bass hung low, as he so often does with Vermont act Swale. That band’s 2014 album The Next Instead, stands right up there with any other rock album that’s come out of Vermont according to my ears. You can see Swale on full display in an early filming of Vermont Public Radio’s Live from the Fort series (Quick aside: every video in this series is well worth your time). When he is not playing loud and fast with Swale, Mr. Bolles is also well known for his bluegrass frolicking in a thousand bands around Burlington as well as a stint with Patrick Ross‘ group, Hot Flannel.

Which brings us to our next player, Doug Perkins. Whoa. What a talent. Hailing from Washington, Vermont, Doug made a splash in the ‘90s and early in the ‘oughts with his driving bluegrass get-up, “Smokin’ Grass.” These days, he can be found playing with various groups including Hot Flannel. He also released a standout album in 2012: Music for Flat-Top Guitar. That instrument, the steel string acoustic guitar, looks like a wand in Mr. Perkins’ palms as he plays it like a wizard. No matter what group he’s playing with, watching a Doug Perkins solo will usually leave you with a jaw on the floor.

Speaking of jaws on the floor, enter Jamie Masefield. While he continues to call Vermont home, Jamie has made his mark on the national scene. His early career included a role as banjo player for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. But  Masefield gained independent notoriety for leading the Jazz Mandolin Project, when he caught the attention of Jon Fishman, drummer and namesake of the legendary jammers Phish. Additionally, here in a public radio loving region, he’s one of only a handful of Vermonters (pre-Bernie Sanders of course), to make his mark on the National Public Radio, having been featured on a Weekend Edition earlier this year talking about the intersection of his work as a stone mason and a mandolin player.

While each of these musicians stands tall in their own right, the sum of the parts is even greater than the whole. Trust me. So come on out this Saturday, December 10th at the Skinny Pancake Hanover, 8pm. Check out more info here.

Lots of good music happening across the Upper Valley this week so be sure to give a listen wherever you are. Which shows are YOU most looking forward to this week?

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