REVIEW: BEN TOWNSEND & DENNIS OTT AT THE FIDDLEHEAD. BY VAUGHN JUDSON

ben townsend dennis ott

Saturday evening under a bright and nearly full moon I wound my way through the mountains to enjoy great food and live music at the Fiddlehead. En route, the moon could not stop capturing my attention. Dubbed by the Algonquins “the worm moon,” because it softens the earth and allows the worms to rise, and named by others, “the sap moon,” since it draws up the maple sap, was bright and seemed to dance from one side of the road to the other, peeking through the trees.

Once inside the Fiddlehead, I sampled a glass of Garnache de Fuego Spanish wine and observed two young men onstage who resembled loggers. The two men were Ben Townsend and Dennis Ott, two Old Time musicians originally from West Virginia’s eastern panhandle. The duo met at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins. Both play wonderfully powerful fiddle and banjo, each accompanying the other and then trading off.

Early in his set, Ben Townsend set fire to the stage with Wheel Horse. He is a seasoned fiddler with a command of the complex variation and dynamics which lift Old Time to its proper transcendent status.

Dennis Ott followed suit with deep passion and soul, conjuring up sparkling mountain streams and sweeping vistas. Both men play with conviction, intricate skill and a natural grasp of the mysteries which are Old Time music. They mesmerized the audience with many more tunes that I can name.

At the close of the evening, the bar was steeped in that “Heartache Tonight” energy brought on by early Spring and the unspoken longings evoked by great music.

Thanks to the Fiddlehead for booking two remarkable musicians.

– Vaughn Judson, LBSPY Review. March 16th, 2014. (Photo source: The Fiddlehead Facebook Page)

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