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Pete Wernick & Flexigrass

What The
Niwot Records

Banjo expert Pete Wernick, of Hot Rize fame, has never been content to imprison himself within genre conventions, even when the style is bluegrass, a format he loves. What The, the focus of a Friday, July 6, CD-release party at Arvada's D Note, is a typically off-kilter recording that charms by creating its own peculiar rules.

Unlike standard bluegrass combos, Flexigrass deploys a drummer, Kris Ditson, as well as vibraphonist Greg Harris and clarinetist Bill Pontarelli, who give the music the swing of jazz with help from bassist Roger Johns. In this context, the most traditional element is Joan Wernick's old-timey singing, which works better on vintage material à la "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" than on "Snowbird," which has too many frightening Anne Murray connotations to actively enjoy. Ultimately, the best moments are instrumentals such as the Wernick-penned "Traveling Home," in which styles that seem doomed to collide sashay together across the ballroom floor.

What The, indeed.

 
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