Bill Ellison

Playbill: Two High String Band

Pristine, clear, Rocky Mountain high air surrounds much of what the Austin trio Two High String Band throws down as bluegrass. For the most part this banjo-less ensemble that calls Houston's Blue Corn label home tends toward tunes with a dawdling, we're-stoned melodic pace; the late-night lament "Bunkhouse Blues" or an Appalachian accented cover of Merle Haggard's "Somewhere Between" are prime examples. But once in a while on songs like "Sonny's Ride" the Two High boys turn their picking horses loose and truly smoke the strings the way hungry Austin pickers are known to do.

They are at their best when they take on a flippant John Hartford persona or on complex instrumentals like "All Day" that allow space for these low-key virtuosos to break out their Berklee musical pedigrees and enter that New Grass composition land inhabited by the likes of Nickel Creek. Call 'em bluegrass, call 'em new grass, call 'em acoustic hippies, at the end of the day it's all just masterfully played folk music. - William Michael Smith

Two High String Band performs tonight at Anderson Fair, 2007 Grant St., 713-528-8576.

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