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Event: Amber Collins and Branch House Pavilion

On Saturday, April 25, 2015, bluegrass trio Amber Collins and Branch House Pavilion performed at the Floyd Country Store, one of the major venues on the Crooked Road. I was familiar with the group because the guitarist, Scott Patrick, spoke to our class the month before, but had never been to the famous venue. The sound of the group was unlike most others we studied this year, since the guitar and the mandolin, played by Abe Goorskey, were the only instruments. Amber Collins dominated the vocals with her piercing yet smooth voice, and I couldn’t help but think of Rhonda Vincent and the class discussions we had about gender in bluegrass. Amber was very clearly the star of the show, no doubt about it. The instrumentalists didn’t try to overshadow her or even match her volume like we noticed in Vincent’s “Drivin’ Nails.” But there were some interactions in between songs between Amber and the band members and her husband (who was in the audience) about her being “difficult” and “high maintenance” that recalled some our class discussions. Most of the audience chuckled, but I remember thinking that it really wasn’t funny, nor would it ever have happened to a male lead singer.

Other than that, the audience-band interactions were my favorite part. It showed a sense of humility that many performers (like, you guessed it, T-Pain) don’t show. The trio was as important to the experience as the audience, and that made the show much more personal. That seems to be the trend with many bluegrass bands—it’s a symbiotic relationship between performer and spectator. Both give and both receive. Amber Collins and Branch House Pavilion were a great first show at the Country Store, hopefully the first of many.

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