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August 18, 2008

Sparrow Quartet feat. Bela Fleck Puts Crooked Still Out of Business

Boston band starts moving company to pay off new trailer

At a recent black tie gala, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn celebrated their victory over Crooked Still.

At a recent black tie gala, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn celebrated victory over Crooked Still.

BOSTON — After eight long months of bitter competition for survival within a highly specialized musical niche, the Sparrow Quartet featuring banjo legend Bela Fleck has finally extinguished the hopes and dreams of its Boston-based competitor Crooked Still.

Both bands featured a highly unusual combination of blonde female singer, traditional American melodies, rumbling cello grooves, state-of-the-art fingerpicked banjo and highly inventive five-string fiddle, often played in a rhythmical style known as “chopping”.

“So much of each band’s appeal was the pure novelty of it. There’s really only room for one band like that at any given festival, and the Sparrow Quartet was able to achieve supremacy,” said Doc Watson, whose annual North Carolina festival Merlefest banned Crooked Still in 2007 for saying “vagina” onstage on a Sunday.

Indeed, many of the lucrative summer festivals Crooked Still counted on to achieve a financially viable summer shunned the Boston band, instead opting to fill the novelty niche in their lineups with the Sparrow Quartet.

We will help you move.

"We will help you move," said Corey Dimario, former bassist for Crooked Still.

“Abigail (Washburn, of Sparrow Quartet) can sing in Chinese, for God’s sake,” said Brittany Haas, Crooked Still’s fiddler. “How can we compete with that? Our singer, Aoife, was totally learning Orphan Girl in Farsi, but we just couldn’t get it together in time to save the band.”

Indeed, the band encountered stiff competition on other fronts, too. “Bela is a multi-Grammy award winning musical supergenius playing a $200,000 banjo. I’m proud we lasted as long as we did,” said Greg Liszt, Crooked Still’s banjo player.

“I’m not unhappy to be retired from banjo playing. I read a lot of books now and I’m finally learning to cook,” said Liszt, adding, “We had a good run of it.”

Crooked Still performs at the Basement in Nashville.

The Sparrow Quartet performs at Merlefest.

Since retiring from music, Crooked Still has been taking odd jobs in the Boston area to make ends meet and pay off its new 5’x8’ automotive trailer.

“We’ve reincorporated as a small scale moving company now, specializing in providing affordable assistance to folks changing apartments,” said Corey DiMario, the former band’s bassist and driver.

He added, “We will help you move.”

Former cellist Tristan Clarridge now also works part-time in the men’s apparel section of Urban Outfitters on the corner of 6th Avenue and W. 14th Street in Manhattan.

Said Clarridge, “People pretty much assumed I worked there even when I was in the band, so this is not even really a change for me.”


6 Responses to “Sparrow Quartet feat. Bela Fleck Puts Crooked Still Out of Business”

  1. Church Grimes on April 1st, 2010 7:53 pm

    I was there in 2007 at Merlefest when Rashad Eggleston made the comment about riding through VA on the way to the festival and opined that the state motto “Virginia is for Lovers” was a thinly veiled reference to vagina. I thought it was quite funny and a logical interpretation. Hardly seems worth getting banned for, suppose it would have been OK to say on Saturday. I guess that means I can’t expect to see Rashad the cello god and his Tornado Riders Merlefest !

  2. David Jeffrey on November 26th, 2008 10:14 am

    what’s wrong with being a part-time musician? I’m glad to have a day job, fans and play over 150 gigs a year and not have to leave Colorado. Peace

  3. Ari Davidow on November 20th, 2008 5:01 pm

    Wait a minute, Aoife sings a great Yiddish. What’s that, chopped liver?

  4. Rick Jackson on August 26th, 2008 11:32 pm

    I thought Aoife WAS singing in Chinese!

  5. the other Greg on August 23rd, 2008 6:10 am

    Sure, she can sing in Chinese, but can she rap? ??

  6. Kelly on August 21st, 2008 11:34 pm

    This would be where the Doctorate comes into play for Greg Liszt. Being Crooked Still’s banjo player is like is alter ego – a mere cover up for who he really is…..da da da da!!! SUPER GENIUS MAN!!!

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