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A chirping good time: Cricket plays bluegrass Saturday

Photo by Contributed Photo

Cricket Tell the Weather is set to perform at Voices Cafe in Westport, Conn., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. They may give a taste of some of the original songs one can find on their debut album, which the band expects to release early next year. For more information, http://voicescafe.org.

One gets a sense from the start that Cricket Tell the Weather is a band with a deep knowledge and respect for bluegrass traditions, but it is not afraid to be influenced by other musical traditions.

Nor is it worried about carrying an enigmatic name.

"We went through a bunch of different names," said New Haven-based fiddler Andrea Asprelli, who is one fifth of this indie string band. "Especially in bluegrass, when a lot of the names are cliche, it is hard to be memorable."

Instead, they were inspired by a piece of experimental theater, where one of the characters goes insane during an old-time contra dance and begins yelling out, "Cricket tell the weather."

Well before the name, the group began about five years ago when Asprelli, who is originally from Colorado, began playing with a Syracuse-based bluegrass jam band and met guitarist Jason Borisoff. Their lives would lead them to New York, where Borisoff continued his music studies, and Connecticut, where, in 2011, Asprelli began serving a year in AmeriCorps in Bridgeport.

The two began writing original material, including the song that would become "Remington," which was inspired by the old Remington Arms Factory in Bridgeport. The song focused on the problem of post-industrial decline in cities across the country. For their efforts, they won the 2011 Podunk Bluegrass Festival Songwriting Competition, which led to a City of Bridgeport Arts and Cultural Council Mayor's Grant, which gave them a chance to record it. Soon, they were on to their next project.

In short order, they enlisted banjo player Doug Goldstein, bassist Jeff Picker and multi-instrumentalist Dan Tressler, a longtime Easton resident and well-known musician who got his start in his family's band, The Jackson Pike Skifflers, to begin hosting a monthly jam session at the Outerspace in Hamden.

"When we began hosting the open mic there, it got us playing in front of people," she said. "We realized quickly that we really, really liked playing together."

It wasn't until Jan. 1, 2013 that the band came up with the name, which was a good thing, considering the many festivals that booked them for performances this past summer needed something to put on the program.

"We've really gotten a lot of good responses," Asprelli said of the past year. In fact, the group earned first place in the 2013 FreshGrass Award Competition at Mass MoCA in North Adams, Mass., during the FreshGrass Festival of bluegrass and roots music in September.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, the group will perform in concert at the Meeting House of Voices Cafe at the Unitarian Church in Westport. They may give a taste of some of the original songs one can find on their debut album, which the band expects to release early next year.

As for their sound, Asprelli said the band starts with its deep roots in the bluegrass tradition, but picks up influences from rock, pop and jazz, adding to the growing progressive bluegrass tradition.

"I'd love to say we have a sound ... but every song is different," she said.

"For us, it is really important for the five instruments to know what their roles are rhythmically and melodically and know how they all fit. We start from there." Read Full Article 

Voices Cafe at the Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road. Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $20 door, $15 advance. 203-227-7205, ext. 14; www.voicescafe.org.

More Information

Bluegrass at Voices
Voices Cafe at the Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road. Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $20 door, $15 advance. 203-227-7205, ext. 14; www.voicescafe.org.
Christina Hennessy

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