Acoustic duo to rock Roanoke Island with reimagined bluegrass
By John Harper/Correspondent
When Dustin Furlow and Matt Thomas hit the stage, they completely pulverize preconceptions about acoustic duos. Furlow, 27, is an award-winning singer-songwriter, and Thomas, 34, has won numerous international flatpicking and thumbpicking competitions (just see his Wikipedia entry).
Together, the Virginia Beach-based musicians are dynamite. They will play a free show Tuesday, July 13, as part of the “Pickin’ on the Porch” series at Bluegrass Island Trading Company in Manteo.
Their repertoire includes originals and covers from artists ranging from Gershwin to Green Day. In the former category are Furlow’s pretty folk-rock tunes “Evergreen” and “The Garden,” as well as Thomas’ instrumental tracks “To Nashville and Back” and “Macon Bacon,” which capture time and place through melodies. The remakes are re-imagined with elements of jazz, rock, folk, country and classical, and most are improvised during performance.
“We have a roadmap in our heads,” Furlow says. “So there are peaks and valleys.”
Last month, the duo had the audience buzzing at a previous Pickin’ on the Porch show, and that’s why they were asked back. With Thomas coaxing gorgeous tones from his six-string guitar and harp guitar and Furlow adding his smooth vocals and exquisite guitar-playing, the duo took off on a spiritual flight.
Among the highlights were an explosive “Hotel California,” an otherworldly “Evil Ways” and a gentle, expressive instrumental take on “Close to You.” The duo’s inventive treatment additionally included the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, Santana, John Mayer and Steely Dan (a bluegrassy, percussive “Do It Again”) .
They also mixed in originals and provided entertaining behind-the-music stories. “We play to the audience,” says Furlow. “So we’re always doing wake-up calls.”
Don’t miss the opportunity to catch their return to town.
When: 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, July 13
Cost: No cover
Where: Bluegrass Island Trading Company, 107 Budleigh St., Manteo waterfront district
Info: 252-423-3039, Bluegrass Island Facebook page
It’s lawn seating, so bring a chair or blanket.