NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 7, 2010

Queen of bluegrass brings crown to Firehouse

Queen of bluegrass rides vocalist of year honors to Firehouse

Just a week after being crowned the International Bluegrass Music Association's 2010 Female Vocalist of the Year, Rounder recording artist Claire Lynch heads to Newburyport's Firehouse Center for the Arts Saturday night to prove why she earned the honor.

Lynch and her band will highlight tracks off their latest CD, the Americana-inflected bluegrass release "Whatcha Gonna Do," as well as other favorites in the 8 p.m. show at the theater in Market Square.

Ken Irwin of Newburyport, one of the founders of the Rounder Records label, calls Lynch one of the best singers around and says her show is one of the "most user-friendly" bluegrass, country and folk performances to come to Newburyport in his memory. Irwin especially lauds Lynch and her band's choice of songs.

"Many of the best songs in her repertoire are songs that she has written, and the material is far more accessible to our audience here than the repertoires of most bluegrass acts," Irwin said in an e-mail.

Music came naturally to Lynch, who was raised in New York by parents who were music lovers. She began her education into country music when she moved to Alabama at age 12 and gravitated toward bluegrass at the end of high school at a time when the values of simplicity and respect for nature had taken hold in the country. She found bluegrass self-sufficient and organic.

Her harmonies have graced the recordings of many musicians, including Linda Ronstadt, and her songs have been recorded by numerous musicians as well.

Twice nominated for a Grammy Award for best bluegrass album, Lynch signed her second, three-record deal with Rounder in 2005. "Whatcha Gonna Do," which was released in September 2009, hit No. 1 on Bluegrass Music Profiles' national bluegrass CD chart in January.

Lynch will take the Firehouse stage Saturday with her band, consisting of bassist Mark Schatz, fiddle and mandolin player Jason Thomas and Matt Wingate on guitar and vocals.

Tickets are $32, $29 for Firehouse members. For reservations or information, call the Firehouse box office at 978-462-7336 or visit www.firehouse.org.

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