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A Bluegrass Feast: Danny Paisley and Southern Grass at Jumbo Jimmy’s Crab Shack, May 2

A Bluegrass Feast: Danny Paisley and Southern Grass at Jumbo Jimmy’s Crab Shack, May 2

"Here's a tune our daddies used to do many years ago,"

told the crowd at Jumbo Jimmy's in Port Deposit on Sunday, and in that sentence were the clues to the wonderful weight his music carried. That he used the plural form of "daddies" was a reference to the many years Bob Paisley and Ted Lundy co-led the best bluegrass band in the tri-state area where Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania come together. Now the second generation—Danny Paisley on guitar and lead vocals, Michael Paisley on bass, and Bobby Lundy on banjo—lead that area's best band, which also happens to be one of the best bluegrass groups in the world. The song was "Slippin' Away," written by Nashville pro Bill Anderson and made famous by country star Jean Shepard, but transformed by Danny Paisley and Southern Grass into a spirited bluegrass number. The slippery, overlapping phrases of Lundy's banjo and Doug Meek's fiddle greased the rails for the tune's railroad-train momentum, but Danny's lead vocal was not high and lonesome in the Stanley Brothers' fashion but low and achy in the style of George Jones and Don Gibson. And it's that chemistry between the bluegrass picking and the honky-tonk singing that gives the tri-state string bands their distinctive sound. So it made sense that the quintet did songs such as "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold," recorded by both Bob Wills and Bill Monroe (not to mention Elvis Presley), and "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight," written by country star Johnny Bond and then reinvented by the Bluegrass Cardinals. Paisley also sang "The Room Over Mine," the title track of the 2008 album on Rounder Records that transformed Southern Grass from local favorites to national figures. As a result they won't be back to their local gig at Jumbo Jimmy's for several months as they travel to Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, and beyond for one bluegrass festival after the other. Still, there's nothing quite like seeing them at Jumbo Jimmy's, a seafood shanty on the east bank of the Susquehanna River. The regulars there have been clogging and slow-dancing to the Paisley and Lundy families for years. (Fiddler T.J. Lundy recently retired from Southern Grass after a snowstorm injury in February and a bout of road weariness.) When the band played Moon Mullican's "Leaves Musn't Fall" before the mirrored wall topped by the blue-neon crab, the wooden dance floor filled with bikers, farmers, and music critics, shuffling in circles to music that was part bluegrass, part honky-tonk and all Susquehanna Valley.

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Danny Paisley and Southern Grass perform as part of the Urban/Appalachia series at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson May 15.

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