Monroe Crossing made a trip to Okoboji to entertain at the Pearson Lakes Art Center Thursday night and left us wanting more.
The Bluegrass ensemble is comprised of five outstanding musicians who can harmonize beautifully on mandolins, fiddles and with their voices. The group derived its name from honoring Bill Monroe, the "Father of Bluegrass Music" and I believe he viewed the show from his "lofty perch" with total approval.
Derek Johnson played lead guitar and sang harmony. Lisa Fuglie showcased her talent on the fiddle, mandolin and possesses a beautiful voice. Matt Thompson played the mandolin, fiddle and provided the baritone harmony. Mark Anderson (Lisa's husband) is the bass player and vocalist. David Robinson is the baby of the group. He just turned 21 and seemed to fit right in on his banjo. His voice has a clear bass quality that was a delight to hear. He seemed quite at home on the stage with those four "older" people.
I was highly entertained by the antics of Anderson while playing his upright bass. He jigs all over the place and his facial expressions were so funny at times. He clearly enjoys interaction with the audience and loves playing bluegrass music.
We all know bluegrass music is not slow or for the faint of heart. However that was the fastest version of "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" that I have ever heard. The beat was great and their version highly entertaining.
Young Mr. Robinson's banjo rendition of "Sled Ridin'" took us for quite a ride. His vocal solo of "Mr. Grinch" was wonderful as well.
To watch these musicians' fingers fly over the fiddle and mandolin strings was worth the price of the ticket all by itself. It is hard to comprehend they can play that fast with such clearness and accuracy.
After the intermission Monroe Crossing played requests from the audience. It turned out to be quite a variety of tunes that really made it enjoyable. I personally liked their bluegrass version of a tune by the Hollies. It was awesome.
A perfect song for Fuglie's voice was the song "At Last" and she nailed it. Bravo!
We in the audience had the opportunity to sing along with "I'll Fly Away" and did so with great enthusiasm.
Monroe Crossing's final number of the show was their fast-paced version of "The Orange Blossom Special" with several Christmas tunes worked into it. That was so special to hear. They were called back for a two-song encore due to the much deserved standing ovations they received.
This was the second time Monroe Crossing has played the art center stage and I hope it won't be their last. They gave an incredible performance!