Oh My Darling Assembly Ballroom

I’m having difficulty writing a review of this band that doesn’t read like it was written by their PR people, because quite frankly, it’s pretty much impossible to find any fault at all with them. Leave aside the fact that the sound was a little underpowered at the start of the gig, this was a set that set a very high bar for everything else I’m going to see and hear at this year’s Fringe. An exquisite blend of bluegrass, old-time and French Canadian folk with a heavy Metis influence, all played with skill, style and charm by Winnipeg residents Vanessa Kuzina (voice, guitar), Allison De Groot (banjo, vocals) and Marie-Josee Dandeneau (bass, vocals) with latest recruit Illinois fiddler – and briefly Edinburgh resident – Rachel Baiman fitting right in like she’d been there all along.

Picking out highlights from a gig packed full of high points isn’t easy, but Vanessa’s song for her grandmother “Won’t Need My Shoes on Heaven’s Floor”, rousing versions of “Greasy Coat” and “Sail Away Ladies” stood out, along with “Take Me to the River”, which I could swear was introduced as a new song – either I misheard that, or it’s a different song altogether from the one of the same name on their first release. No matter, it’s well worth its place in the set.

One of my favourite gigs this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon.

Jim Welsh