Bluegrass music is made for the mountains. It’s meant to be played on sun-swathed summer days deep in the heart of your home range, or in nearby, whiskey-warmed taverns. However, none of that speaks at all to the incredible talent being churned out by today’s string musicians in the sprawling cities and urban jungles of Chicago, Nashville or California. Case in point: Cornmeal. They may come from the industrial heartland of America, but they pick, bow and pluck strings with a mountaintop reverie that few Oregon or Colorado string bands can dismiss.
Cornmeal has been on the festival circuit for the better part of the past decade, making stops at Telluride, Ned Fest, All Good and Bonnaroo among others.
Like so many of today’s bluegrass musicians, Cornmeal’s players have traveled long and varied musical roads leading them to where they are now. That said, Cornmeal’s rock ’n’ roll tendencies expose themselves quite unabashedly. Ally Kral’s infectious and deliciously shriekish fiddle jams, guitarist Kris Nowak’s shreddy guitar work and drummer JP Nowak’s steady, rhythmic backing certainly land these players on the more progressive side of the bluegrass spectrum. Like a more rock-heavy String Cheese Incident, Cornmeal has a reputation for fast-tempo dance numbers and on-stage intra-band collaborations. When that collaboration happens to include SF’s own Hot Buttered Rum, Eugene is in for a fiery hoedown.
Cornmeal and Hot Buttered Rum play 9 pm Saturday, March 14, at WOW Hall; $12 adv.,$15 door.