For more than 22 years, Mike Auldridge was part of Seldom Scene, the popular Washington-based bluegrass group that was the house band at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va.
Now he has his own group, Chesapeake, which he is bringing to First Night Annapolis, the New Year's Eve celebration of the lively arts that takes over the city's Historic District.
'Best in their genre'
First Night officials say they are pleased to have booked the group, which has a devoted following that probably will help boost attendance at the celebration.
"Chesapeake has it all. A national, local, regional reputation of being on the cutting edge of bluegrass," said Lana Nelson, co-executive director.
"They represent the best musicians in their genre."
The four-piece group also includes Moondi Klein, another Seldom Scene alumnus; Jimmy Gaudreau, who has performed with the Tony Rice Unit, Country Gentlemen and J.D. Crowe; and T. Michael Coleman, a former Nashville sessions player who has worked with Chet Atkins, Don Williams and Johnny Cash.
Auldridge formed the group about two years ago while he still was playing with Seldom Scene.
"A group of us got together jamming in my basement, and from that the group booked our first concert in North Carolina for Doc Watson," Auldridge said.
Seldom Scene was "running out of steam," he said. The group "no longer seemed avant-garde."
Chesapeake, on the other hand, has "a more contemporary, eclectic kind of sound," Auldridge said.
The group mixes traditional acoustic instrumentation -- the pedal steel, lap steel, Weisenbroth guitar and piano -- with tight vocal harmonies to achieve a sound that members say is more than country.
One of Auldridge's favorite tunes is "Stomping at the Savoy," a famous jazz piece. Chesapeake, which has released two compact discs, "Rising Tide" and "Full Sail," will appear at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Annapolis at 6: 45 p.m., 8 p.m., 9: 15 p.m. and 10: 45 p.m.
For more information on First Night Annapolis, call First Nightline: (410) 787-2717.
Pub Date: 12/15/96