All Girl Boys

Heart's Desire
Wilder Shores Records

I first heard this band at a lunchtime concert at the building where I work. Not then knowing the bluegrass significance of the word "boys" (for the reader who may not: Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, and numerous other So and So and His Such and Such boys), I didn't know what to expect, except they'd either be all girls or all boys. I'm happy to report the All Girl Boys the former, and not a band of cross-dressers!

>From the San Francisco Bay area, the All Girl Boys have been playing together since 1989, at first casually then on a regular basis, gradually growing from a loose jam into a band. They come from a tradition of bluegrass native to the Bay Area, which is both free-thinking and has a reverence for tradition. In such an atmosphere, as Laurie Lewis, herself a long-time Bay Area bluegrass musician, writes in the liner notes for Heart's Desire, "it seems only natural that there is a group here of fine musicians, writing great songs and tunes within the bluegrass tradition who happen all to be women."

Heart's Desire is mix of traditional standards and traditional- sounding originals that can't help but make your toe start tappin' your heart feel glad. Whether it's an old Flatt & Scruggs song like "Gonna Have Myself A Ball, or an original like "Heart Upon My Sleeve," -- described as "If Dorothy Parker had written a bluegrass song, this might have been it" -- each song is a carefully cut gem that sparkles and flashes. The Girls' musicianship is impeccable, their harmonies drop-dead gorgeous, their energy and joy in what they're doing obvious -- and catching. Highly recommended.

Wilder Shore Records, PO Box 9730, Berkeley, CA 94709-0730. All Girl Boys booking: 510/531-3145 or 415/969-7389.

--Cheryl Cline

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