Over 40 years since they began playing together at weekly jam sessions in Ben Eldridge’s Bethesda, Maryland basement, The Seldom Scene have become one of the single greatest contributors to the progression of bluegrass while setting a new standard and attracting new audiences to the genre. Their legendary weekly DC-area residencies included bluegrass versions of country music, rock, and even classical pop. The band’s popularity soon forced them to play more than once a week—but they continued to maintain their image as being seldom seen, and on several of their early album covers were photographed with the stage lights on only their feet, or with their backs to the camera. The Seldom Scene have performed at the White House many times, and continue to tour year-round.What does it take for a bluegrass band to remain popular for more than four decades? For The Seldom Scene, it’s taken not only talented musicians, a signature sound, and a solid repertoire, but also a sheer sense of fun. On April 22, the longtime pillars of the bluegrass world returned with the aptly titled ‘Long Time… Seldom Scene,’ via Smithsonian Folkways. The newly recorded collection features fresh interpretations of 16 oft-requested tunes and is the band’s first studio album since the GRAMMY-nominated album Scenechronized in 2007. It’s a family reunion in all the best ways, featuring the current — and longest-running — lineup, joined by founding members Tom Gray and John Starling and guests Chris Eldridge, Emmylou Harris, and Rickie Simpkins.
Friday, December 8, 2023