Mountain Quickstep brings country music to Zankel: Unique band delivers an energetic performance in Ladd Concert Hall

Posted by Olivia Powers

On Oct 13, Mountain Quickstep transported Skidmore to another time and place during their performance at the Ladd Concert Hall of Arthur Zankel Music Center.

The band combines elements of old-time bluegrass and influences of early country music from the Adirondack, Appalachian, and Smoky Mountain regions to create a folksy sound that melds the old with the new. The band members, who include Sarah Milonovich, Greg Anderson, and faculty members John Kirk and Trish Miller, were natural performers. They brought the country atmosphere to Zankel by telling stories of Louisiana fiddle camp and using words like "folks" and "fellas" with a slight country twang.

"[The band] is very good at keeping the old styles alive, but putting a new spin on them," said fiddle student Leland Martin '14.

Music wasn't the only thing brought to the stage. Kirk and Miller both broke out their dancing shoes and displayed an energetic performance of quickstep as the other two band members continued to play. Their enthusiastic smiles, impressive high kicks, and fast feet inspired the audience to clap, and even sing along at times. In a way, the music made a community out of the unacquainted audience members as they laughed together and raised their voices in a single chorus.

The performance was a special kick-off concert to celebrate Mountain Quickstep's selection for the "Rhythm of the Road: American Music Abroad" program. The tour will take the band to Eastern Europe in November. Put on by Jazz at Lincoln Center and the US Department of State, the tour will allow the group to introduce their traditional American sound to international venues.

"We're so lucky to be able to take this tour," gushed Miller. "We're going to be able to go around the world and make some friends."

The band is excited for the opportunity that the tour will give them in becoming more active world citizens.

"We'll go very close to the Middle East and hopefully meet some people there who will be able to say ‘we are friends with some Americans'," Miller said.

The audience responded to this hope with a resounding cheer.

The concert ended as the band brought student musicians from the College and Bennington College on stage to play two final songs. Kirk and Miller coaxed the students closer to the microphones, displaying the burgeoning talents of the younger generation in recalling a past time.

When the band returned to stage for a final encore, Kirk thanked the college's music department for supporting smaller instruments, like the fiddle and banjo, which are inherent to folk music. The audience's boisterous applause confirmed its gratitude as well.

For photos and videos of Mountain Quickstep's tour fans can visit the band's blog at www.mountainquickstep.com.

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