Showcase Review: CornFed Dogs

by Jody and Steve Lipton

More photos available on HVBA Photos

The monthly HVBA Showcase Series is an under appreciated gem. Those of you who heard about this event, and didn’t attend, certainly missed an awesome concert.

CornFed Dogs’ performance on Friday evening was something special. We first heard this group perform at one of Joe Val’s basement shows last year. That was back in February and it was the best concert of the whole weekend; their performance in Poughkeepsie last night, however, was even better. We think it was the most enjoyable bluegrass event that we’ve attended in 2012.

The band, fronted by Nick Novia on guitar, is comprised of Joe DeLillo on bass, Kalia Yeagle on fiddle, Mike Sasano on mandolin, and Ben Fried on banjo and dobro. These virtuoso performers played beautiful music in a relaxed intimate setting in a small room at Christ Church. It’s hard to pick out a favorite player from among this amazing group of talented musicians whose set list consisted of a balanced mix of bluegrass standards, spiced up with some great old country songs done in true bluegrass style. We could hardly take our eyes off of Joe DeLillo’s fingers as he punched out bouncy walking bass runs; Nick Novia never failed to create ¬and maintain an atmosphere filled with humor and down to earth remarks while singing songs with a beautifully smooth and strong vocals; Kalia can kick off any song like a dream as music flows from her with ease; Mike Sassano rocks out every single break like a magician; and Ben Fried manages to make the banjo and dobro sing – he even smiled during the evening. What made this band stand out even more was watching them interact with one another and “make music” on the spot – especially when they did in response to a request for an unrehearsed version of “Once a Day (every day, all day long).”

We can keep going…and we will. What also made this event so special was the excellent sound set-up by Tom Jeffereys; whatever he did, it sounded as clear as if one were listening to CornFed Dogs through high quality earphones. The intimate space created by the band, and shared thoroughly with the audience, was a reflection of the band members’ ability to be loose in their demeanor while remaining tight in their playing and harmonies; lucky for us, it was the best of both worlds.

We’ll say it once, and we’ll say it again: If you ever get a chance to see CornFed Dogs in the future, find a way to get there!


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