This was the scene on a Dupont Circle rooftop Saturday night -- D.C.'s Second String Band crooning American folk music to an audience of about 30 that I felt pretty damn awesome to be a part of. It was super VIP. A couple friends invited the band to play on their roof as a send-off for their European debut tour. The city looked very different from up there, and it was like if you weren't on that roof that day, you were totally missing out on the fact that this little gathering was going on nine stories above Connecticut Ave.
The band defines "second string" this way: "The squad of players available to replace the starters." They define a "second string band" this way: "The squad of players who play string music from the fringes, giving that music the center stage."
Sounds about right. I think I fell in love with folk music that night. Or maybe it was bluegrass. I don't know enough about it to know the difference. Regardless, it's the type of music that you can be sitting there roasting in the middle of hot and sticky D.C. 90 degree heat, but you're sort of transported to Arkansas or Louisiana for a couple hours, lost in the guitar, the fiddle, the mandolin (maybe?). I keep hearing about Gillian Welch. I might need to go on a downloading spree. I've always been a fan of strings -- I think my favorite instrument is the electric violin -- so of course I loved the Second String Band. The songs have a similar sound, but each is distinct. They write almost all their own music. The covers they played were recognizable but often only slightly so. And it's definitely the type of music you have to see in person because it's kind of a whole experience to be a part of.
That didn't stop me from buying the cd, and as you won't get the chance to hear the band live until they return from Europe, you should probably get a copy too. Check them out at http://2ndstringband.com/.