Review: Joe Craven Trio had Minden audience dancing in chairs

It was one of those wintry nights when some folks curl up near the warmth of a fireplace, listen to dreamy music and read a book.

But some folks weren't in Minden's CVIC Hall when it snowed as the last work week ended and the Joe Craven Trio went to work. Many other folks were, as the place was filled even though snowflakes fell in droves.

Inside, the house came down not long after the lights did. Those who braved the wintry blast, not just a few from Carson City to the north, were almost dancing in their chairs as they heard Craven play stringed and percussion instruments with intensity.

They also heard topflight musicians alongside the trio leader - pianist John R. Burr and drummer Kendrick Freeman. At intermission, audience members were buzzing about the driving and technically-proficient style of Burr, the flawless skin work and fine voice of Freeman.

An odd assortment of songs emanated from the group, some standard folk tunes jazzed up and infused with world music flavors, such as Latin and African strains or European nightclub sounds.

For example, "Hot Turkey" was a takeoff on the standard "Turkey In the Straw" with fealty to those megastars in yesteryear France, guitarist Django Reinhardt and fiddler Stephane Grappelli.

Another odd combination was a medley called "Soldiers of Joy" based on the American folk genre's "Soldier's Joy" and "Leather Britches" that Craven infused with South African undertones.

Burr wowed people with his piano and key bass work, and group members did wonders with Burr's composition "Up with the Crackadons" - pronounced "crack-a-dawns" - as they did with Craven's wiseguy tune "Get Off It."

Freeman's own "The Secret Moon" reprised his appreciation of Haitian drumming and culture, and it reflected his experience of the 2010 earthquake in that Caribbean country.

Craven's work on mandolin, fiddle and percussive instruments was interspersed with a zany wit and continual efforts to entertain his audience while sharing credit with his fellow musicians.

The trio was brought to Minden Friday night by the Carson Valley Arts Council.


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