New Year’s Eve 2005. A crowd gathers outside the Filmore in Denver, a legendary pop music venue, for a night of string band music. The bill includes Yonder Mountain String Band with Darol Anger and Bela Fleck, Vince Herman and Peter Rowan—and old-time string band Uncle Earl. As my friends and I get to the will call window, a girl with an incense stick in each hand asks us if we have an extra ticket and if we “need anything” to make it through the concert. We ignore her and hurry inside so we don’t miss Uncle Earl, who goes on first. We make our way inside and get backstage in time to watch them go onstage. The general admission area in front of the stage, the club, which seats about 4,000, is about half full of young, acoustic jam band fans who are present for the party that will bring in the new year.
So what is a cross-tuned fiddle, clawhammer banjo, clog dancing, gospel singing, old-time string band doing here? . . .