On Dec. 2 we went to a concert by the bluegrass band the Red Squirrel Chasers down in Newark. (Hint: you know you're in the right place for a old-time music show when you see a license plate that says "Fiddler.")
The four musicians were a cheery bunch, but the songs they played represented a catalogue of abject misery: a double-fatal house fire, a woman who dies after visiting her son ("I'm Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail"), a suicidal fellow suffering from unrequited love ("No Letter in the Mail Today"), and years of marital stress ("Cold Rain and Snow").
At one point, after playing yet another grim song ("Short Life of Trouble"), the mandolin player (Jim Collier) turned to the guitarist (Jim Nelson) and said, "How did we come up with this set list?!"
On a brighter, and, they insisted, more characteristic, note, they finished with a rousing singalong version of "She'll Be Comin' Around the Mountain."