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New Monsoon - Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival 
By Kevin Wierzbicki

For those who have not heard New Monsoon yet, the title of this disc may be a bit misleading. Like many acts who appear at the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, New Monsoon is not a bluegrass group. They are a big, seven-man group with lots of percussionists and a penchant for long songs, mostly instrumental. So if one feels inclined to try and fit them into a neat little box, the “jam band” appellation will have to do. As such, their style is mostly taken from old school jammers---think a mix of Santana and the Allman Brothers. The music perks along with Rajiv Parikh and Brian Carey whipping up a world-beat frenzy on tablas and congas respectively, hitting multiple crescendos until Jeff Miller suddenly jumps in with an explosive electric guitar solo. Between Miller and Bo Carper, New Monsoon does use traditional bluegrass instruments like mandolin, dobro and banjo, but in songs that taste more of East Indian curry than they do of backwoods moonshine. On some of the songs, you would swear there are a sarod and a sitar in there somewhere.

Most of the music on Live has not been recorded by New Monsoon before although they do reprise “Mountain Air,” “Painted Moon” and “Velvet Pouch” from their 2003 album, Downstream. “Rock Springs Road” is one of the vocal numbers and is done in a southern-rock style complete with fluid guitar solos a la Dickey Betts. The jazzy “Velvet Pouch” begins with some crazy (but impressive) nonsense scat singing; that song is followed by a break for the band while Parikh solos on tabla for three minutes. This effort sounds especially good for a live record; no fluffs and mixed to allow every intricate note to resonate clearly.

CD Info 

New Monsoon - Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Label: SCI Fidelity
Release Date: 3-15-05
Mountain Air
Painted Moon 
Blue Queen
Daddy Long Legs
Rock Springs Road
Velvet Pouch
Tabla Solo
Bridge of the Gods
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