My colleague John and I were among a small but appreciative audience to hear Missy Raines and The New Hip at the weekly Monday night concert of the Institute of Musical Traditions. The band features Raines’ energetic bass lines as the foundation for jazzgrass and acoustic music, capped with some terrific solo work by a group of young Nashville-based musicians.
Instrumentals are the core of this band’s work, and they played most of the selections from Inside Out, their new CD on Alison Brown’s Compass Records. The title track, Duke of Paducah, and a reworked Angeline the Baker entitled simply Angeline are among the highlights. All the musicians were top notch, but Michael Witcher on dobro stood out throughout the evening. Multi-instrumentalist Ethan Ballinger looks to be all of 16, but played beyond his years. The band also broke in a new guitarist (on his second gig and so new he’s not listed on the web site) who carefully studied the chord charts but didn’t miss a beat. At the end of a satisfying night of music, Raines and the band played a spirited Grismanesque tune titled Wiskerface Goes to Leningrad (or something like that), and then came back for an encore with a great version of Bill Monroe’s Old Ebeneezer Scrooge.
The crowd was small, but included some impressive bluegrass royalty. Raines recognized one of the pioneers of women in bluegrass, Lynn Morris, and later she thanked Tom Gray, one of the founders of the Seldom Scene, for inspiring her as a young bass player.
For friends in the Shenandoah Valley, Missy Raines and The New Hip will be playing in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville at the end of March. Then the following month they’ll be at Merlefest.
In the meantime, enjoy this video of another of the highlights of the concert, the jazzy Stop Drop & Wiggle.
More to come…