The April Verch Band—rounded out by bassist and clawhammer banjo player Cody Walters and guitarist Hayes Griffin, who has a Masters in jazz improv from the New England Conservatory—is an energetic, virtuosic, tradition-celebrating outfit, not to mention one that’s not soon forgotten when they depart the stage. It doesn’t hurt that the thrilling grand finale involves Verch fiddling and step dancing—and often executing two entirely different intricate rhythmic patterns—at once.
Something else that’s downright impressive is the range of material Verch, Walters and Griffin inhabit on the new album. She’s so fluent in folk traditions—the Canadian ones she was born into and the American ones she later found her way to—that old fiddle tunes like those featured in the Canadian medley “Dusty Miller,” “Fiddle Fingers” and “Grizzly Bear” and the Appalachian medley “Edward in the Treetop,” “Yellow Jacket” and “Quit That Tickling Me” sound positively reinvigorated. Originals like her instrumental waltz “Morris & Boris” and country courting number “The Only One” are clearly made to last. What makes the latter song even more special is that Bluegrass Hall of Famer Mac Wiseman’s voice is on it, and he’s not the only guest of note. Premier old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky joins Verch for some handsome dual fiddling on “Evening Star Waltz,” and bluegrass banjo icon Sammy Shelor appears on “Davy Davy” and “Folding Down the Sheets.”