Phil Lesh Friends We’d Like to See | Allie Kral

Furthur is going on hiatus in 2014, and Phil Lesh himself has let slip that he plans to spend the year in various Friends combinations, most likely in a residency format and definitely not “on the bus.” And what’s more, he’ll be looking to expand the circle of Friends, or so he told Gary Lambert during a Tales from the Golden Road interview earlier this month.

[Photo by Brian Spady]

As you’ve seen for the last few weeks here on JamBase, we’ve taken the liberty of making some nominations for that prestigious circle, including Nels Cline , Benmont Tench and Jake Cinninger. This week’s no-holds-barred suggestion is the one and only Allie Kral.

A first-rank fiddle player and a warm, invigorating stage presence, Kral made her jam scene bones with Chicago newgrassers Cornmeal, with whom she spent 10 years before parting ways with the band this past spring. She’s remained a steady presence since, having been out on the road with inventive bluegrass crews like Hot Buttered Rum and also appearing as an Artist-at-Large at Shoe Fest and other festivals.

Phil himself told Lambert that recent years have brought him that much more in touch with American roots music – obviously an Allie forte. But for all the obvious Dead canon choices – you know you’d want her dragging that bow across “Cumberland Blues” or “Dire Wolf” or “I Know You Rider” – it’s not far-fetched to think she’d move a few psychedelic clicks left of center, adjust the pedal board, and warp those strings to fit a “Dark Star,” “The Other One” or, hell, “Caution.”

Past experience suggests Kral is a model guest musician – perfect for Phil’s “school of fish” concept for the players with whom he collaborates. She’s aggressive enough to make her presence felt and doesn’t wait around to be told what to do, but we’ve also never heard her be so overpowering that she crowds out bandmates or reduces her hosts to backing band status. To hear her fiddle darting around in a two-hour, wide-reaching Phil & Friends set would be, to our minds, just too tasty to describe.

Check out this corker of a “Plane Crash” with moe. from Summer Camp:

Written By: Chad Berndtson