“OK boys, enjoy your picture show,” the chain gang prison guard told his crew during an afternoon excursion in the 2000 film “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.” The movie and its soundtrack brought a new appreciation for bluegrass in this country and inspired a generation of bands.
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Laurie Lewis witnessed the phenomenon before.
“I remember when (the 1967 movie) ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ came out and all of a sudden there was a huge interest in bluegrass because the soundtrack was Flatt and Skruggs’ ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown,’” she said. “In San Francisco, busloads of tourists would come to the bars on bluegrass night. People love it when they hear it. I have seen these surges come and go.”
Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands are coming Wednesday to the Valhalla Boathouse Theatre. The show sold out on Tuesday.
Lewis has been praised by artists such as Linda Ronstadt and newgrass pioneer Sam Bush, who called her music newgrass for its traditional style and modern-day delivery. Her band includes Bay Area musicians Tom Rozum, mandolin; Patrick Sauber, banjo, Brandon Godman, fiddle and East Tennessee resident Haselden Ciaccio, bass.
“I love the old stuff and what I hear in the old stuff that really attracts me is the individually of the players and their ability to tall their own stories in a personal way using this wonderful mix of acoustic instruments,” Lewis said.
“That’s what I’ve gotten most from my heroes. Be yourself and make music from as deep a place as you can possibly go. That’s what keeps me refreshed and excited and it makes me want to keep playing.”
Lewis was in the Sierra Nevada Mountains all last week. She spent three days on a rafting-and-music trip on the Tuolumne River followed by three more days at a music performance and workshop at Sugar Bowl.
“As I was leaving I was very sad until I realized, oh, I’m going to spend a couple of days home and then I am right back up there at Lake Tahoe,” she said.
Lewis play at the Tallac Historic Site five years in a row in the 1980s with her group the Grand Street String Band. She also played at the venue a couple of years ago in a duo with Rozum.
The plan is loose for Wednesday’s show that starts at 7:30 p.m.
“We generally make a set list at the very last moment and then we don’t necessarily follow it,” she said.
— Tim Parsons