OKLAHOMA—On the evening of January 31, mandolinists Sam Bush and George Marshall, double bassist Edgar Meyer and fiddle player George Meyer filled Armstrong Auditorium with the sounds of bluegrass on a chilly Oklahoma evening.
Forecasts had called for sleet and foul weather, but the campus remained dry and more than 613 patrons of the 823-seat sellout crowd braved the cold to share the experience of elevated “newgrass”-style music, a development of the American genre that originated in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Edmond was one stop on the group’s one-time tour around the United States performing select numbers from their 1999 album Short Trip Home as well as some original compositions, fiddle tunes and bluegrass breakdowns.
Bush and Marshall played different instruments throughout the performance for numbers that involved guitar and multiple fiddles, as well as the mandola, described by one performer as the “mama bear” of the mandolin family.
Bush and Marshall played one piece that they dedicated to Betty Berline, in honor of Oklahoman fiddler Byron Berline, who lived in nearby Guthrie prior to his death at the age of 77 in 2021.
For a piece called “Death by Triple Fiddle” Edgar Meyer said, “One thing’s for sure: When you hear this you know the concert’s over.” Bush took a moment to acknowledge the elder Meyer’s talent for compositions, understanding of classical music and skill in numerous instruments that made the pieces they played possible.
They played the piece, four bows meet together and then four men linked and took a bow.
The group filled spaces between the music with friendly banter and good-natured ribbing. Before the encore, Edgar Meyer thanked the crowd and said he enjoyed playing in Oklahoma: He was born 62 years ago in Tulsa, about 100 miles from the auditorium. The audience responded to the final piece with a standing ovation, and Bush threw mandolin picks out into the crowd as souvenirs.
Pastor and bluegrass fan Joel Hilliker said, “I find Edgar Meyer’s music so uplifting, so fun, and often quite beautiful. It is rooted in bluegrass, and has wonderful broad appeal, but it is also quite intricate. And these men are just spectacular virtuosos. It is so fun to watch them so efficiently and nonchalantly produce these glorious sounds on their instruments. Also, they are just genuinely nice people.”