String Ties wow Perry audience with down-home virtuosity

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About 75 people enjoyed a first-rate Christmas concert Sunday afternoon when the bluegrass quarter String Ties performed about two dozens holiday songs at the Perry Fine Arts Center.

The Perry Fine Arts concert series ended their 2019 performance schedule on a high note, with the String Ties bringing instrumental virtuosity and much good humor to their two-hour show, which featured numbers ranging from blazing instrumentals to well-known choral standards.

With 21 years of shared performance history, String Ties produced two tight sets of holiday favorites and original compositions, all tied together with brief excerpts of familiar themes from Tchaikovsky’s beloved Christmastime ballet, “The Nutcracker Suite.”

Five-string banjo player Tommy Pfaff introduced most of the songs, including several of his own original Christmas works. The technical excellence of Larry Dalton on the stand-up bass was prominent throughout the show, with guitarist Dan Sebranek laying down a reliable rhythm section and adding the occasional bright solo. Wayne Beezley’s mandolin melodies sang like birds above the seamless ensemble.

Jazz touches stood out on Jerry Marks’ “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and on Jerry Herman’s “We Need a Little Christmas– omitted from the printed program — and proved the versatility and instrumental skills of the group. Similarly, the delicate arrangements of some of their “Nutcracker” passages, woven into medleys with “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” and “Christmas is Near,” were produced with studio quality for their Perry auditors.

 

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