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Ten Strings and a Goat Skin

February 23, 2017 by

Ten Strings and a Goat Skin
9 February 2017
20 Front Street — Lake Orion, MI

Aupres du Poele — around the stove. That was the feel when Acadian folk music trio Ten Strings and a Goat Skin performed recently at 20 Front Street, the newly-minted performance venue in Lake Orion, Michigan. Bright, talented and engaging, these three young French-Canadians kept the packed house cozy through two sets of traditional folk music. The room holds (maybe) 100 people and we were all on our feet stomping for more as the boys drove off in a van back to Prince Edward Island.

The evening was a history lesson in traditional northeast-Canadian folk culture. The trio’s style ranges from whirling Scots-Celtic rhythms to the bluegrass-infused Acadian fiddling tradition of French Canada to wicked Cajun zydeco grooves. (I learned that the word “Cajun” was boiled down from “Acadian…” Who knew?) The group have been nominated for a Juno award, but Rowen Gallant, their extraordinary fiddle player and resident historian and yarn-spinner, could also be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Their sound – with Rowen’s fiddling, Jesse Periard playing acoustic guitar and Caleb Gallant on bodhran (an Irish frame drum) and floor-stomper – felt right at home in the friendly confines of this congenial outpost in the wilds of northern Oakland County.

20 Front Street is the love-child of Alan and Angela Goetz, veterans of the southeast Michigan indie music and arts scene. They converted this old auto shop in Lake Orion’s vibrant old town center into a cafe and a small theater. The performance space is complete with chandelier, restored church pews and a back-drop carved in India. They have put an emphasis on sonic quality in the theater and it has paid off — the sound is rich and well-balanced. The cafe side is a comfortable gathering place featuring kombucha, a delicious fermented tea drink, in several flavors on tap.

The polite and enthusiastic crowd mingled in the cafe after the show with the polite and enthusiastic String and Goat boys. It felt like a rare opportunity to catch a group early in a trajectory that seems destined for greater things and bigger audiences.

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