Adelaide Fringe

Fringe Review: Keep the Circle Unbroken

One of the best musical Fringe shows you will see this year

One of the best musical Fringe shows you will see this year

Presented by: Small Flock
Reviewed: 23 February, 2023

In 1972 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band produced an album that would send out musical ripples across generations, and across years. May the Circle Be Unbroken took its name from an old Gospel number made famous by The Carter Family. Younger musicians joined forces with some “olde timey” icons from Country and Americana, such as Earl Scruggs and Roy Acuff. It is still regarded today as one of the seminal albums in contemporary music, with its unique blend of styles, all sitting on a foundation of blue-grass/Americana.

In 2020 several frustrated locked-down musicians decided to look to this album for inspiration, and put together a Nitty-Gritty-style show. The result is Keep the Circle Unbroken.

Central to the line-up is Melbourne-based bluegrass all-star band Row Jerry Crow, led by curator and MC Craig Johnston (Delsinki). For this tour they are joined by Vikki Thorn (The Waifs), Mick Thomas (Weddings Parties Anything), and local Adelaide talent including vocalists Cookie Baker and Koral, and banjoist Taylor Pfieffer.

Thorn and Thomas got proceedings underway with the up-beat number Hit Parade of Love, with Thorn showing her chops on harmonica, as well as her spectacular vocals. The set moved through such numbers as Lonesome Fiddle Blues, Angel Band and the old Carter Family favourite Keep on the Sunny Side. Mick Thomas took lead vocals on a raw, gutsy version of I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, blowing the old schmaltzy standard out of the barn. Original numbers by band members included Thorn’s beautiful Cheyenne from her Thorn Bird project, Our Sunshine which Thomas co-wrote with Paul Kelly, and The Waifs number Lighthouse. The night finished with a rousing rendition of Orange Blossom Special, followed by a sing-along to the eponymous number, Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

A group of outstanding musicians, including superb vocalists. A carefully curated set of songs from both the Americana songbook, and the pens of contemporary Australian composers. A lively and personable MC in the person of Delsinki. A summer evening in Adelaide.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten

Venue: The Box, Garden of Unearthly Delights
Season: 23rd February
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $55

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