As I walked into the A&B on Sunday, April 6th at 10 PM, I was surprised to see so many people crowding the patio. So, I had no choice but to go into the bar area. What I realized soon after though was that 14 out of the 20ish people in the patio were the band. Yes, that’s right…a 14-piece band…in a not so spacious area. I scanned the band members to get an idea for the type of music they would play before they started. I saw acoustic guitars, banjos, mandolins, a dobro and an electric bass. They took up most of the patio, but also had an audience.
After speaking with one of the servers, I found out that they frequently play at the A&B on Sundays and that they are one of the more popular acts at the venue! The band comprised members from the Princeton Area Bluegrass. I was also informed that the people and the number of people in the group changes from week to week. From what I gather, it must be a music society with a bunch of members that get together and “jam.”
There were two females in last night’s group, and they seemed to be the lead vocalists. The music was 100% bluegrass…and it was awesome. The songs I recognized were covers. The customers who were in the patio seemed to genuinely enjoy the music. I couldn’t hear it that well from the bar since it was quite crowded for a Sunday. So, I hung out in a little nook between the two rooms.
The songs were mostly instrumental with some short verses and refrains in-between minutes-long stretches of instrumental playing. The verses were sung by one of the women, and the refrains – very short, easy to learn – were repeated over and over… there was one about “a two dollar bill” that went on for probably about 8 minutes. The music was catchy, and the customers were definitely tapping their feet and either humming along quietly or singing loudly. While the verses were only sung by one/two vocalists, the refrains were sung by everyone in the group in their respective octaves. There was no harmonization. I loved hearing this; it literally sounded like a huge jam session between friends. Sometimes one instrument would have a solo while the others just played background. It was very casual; one of the guitar players stopped playing so he could take a few sips of beer and listen to how the ensemble was sounding. I thought this was awesome!