Astrograss - "The Colored Pencil Factory"Fall 2012 Music
Yes, there are gorgeous and multi-layered renditions of long-loved classics ("Shortenin' Bread," "Cluck Old Hen," "Sail Away Ladies"). But the stand-out joy of Colored Pencil Factory by Astrograss is in the nine original songs by the sharply honed writing team of Jordan Shapiro and Joe Grossman. Anyone who claims Shel Silverstein, John Hartford, and Earl Scruggs as inspiration are folks we could be friends with. Shapiro produces, sings, plays the guitar and even whistles on "Happy, Sad, and More Song." Beginning with the utterly enchanting adaptation of a traditional Albanian dance tune, fiddler Sarah Alden knocks it out of the park more than once, Tim Kiah (vocals and bass), Jonah Bruno and Bennett Sullivan are on banjo, Michael Pasternak (mandolin) and Dennis Lichtman (mandolin, clarinet and fiddle) and Jennifer Millich (vocals on 16) make up this very talented group.
"Make it Up" is an ode to imagination and pretend play ("Once when I was bored, I wrote an encyclopedia, I like to read it more now than even Wikipedia...Sometimes I don't know everything but I like to pretend I do.. if you haven't got a story make it up"). The title track, "The Colored Pencil Factory" extends the celebration ("I want purple even more than French Fries...I want to live life where the pages never end") and "Music Makes Me Feel" is a musical adaptation of a poem by nine-year-old Marcella Fellus Borgenicht.
Deeply rooted in tradition, this extraordinary example of American music and musicians uses traditional bluegrass and flavors it with a special sauce. The resulting style and energy grabs today's kids and families from the jaws of technology and puts them squarely at the acoustic intersection of fabulous and fun. No bells or whistles needed - or wanted.