The Best Folk Show to See This Month Happens on Sunday

Don’t miss Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Thile in the Goat Rodeo Sessions.

Photo: Jeremy Cowart

Goat Rodeo Sessions perform at Ravinia on Sunday. 

In a brilliant mashup of genres, Yo-Yo Ma shares the stage with three other world-class instrumentalists—bluegrass/classical bass player Edgar Meyer, Nashville fiddler Stuart Duncan, and mandolinist Chris Thile (of Nickel Creek and Punch Brothers)—to play The Goat Rodeos Sessions at Ravinia, set to be collaborative folk show of the month.

Together, the four teeter smartly on the edge of opus and ode, hoe-down and orchestra. Thile uses all his expected tools of Appalachian music standards while still approaching the songwriting from a fresh angle, pulling in stylistic elements from his recent Punch Brothers project like tight circular harmonic patterns and polyrhythms. Ma’s signature tone jumps all over, sometimes matching the bass in low, rich harmony, other times jumping alongside the fiddle as a lead instrument.

The project also features the vocals of folk songstress Aoife O’Donovan, who pairs with Thile’s voice for a nice occasional break in the instrumental songs. It’s unclear how long these renowned musicians plan on keeping the Goat Rodeo Sessions alive, so their Ravinia show will be a rare treat before they focus back on their other projects. Don’t miss it. 

Sunday, August 18 at Ravinia Pavilion, 200 Ravinia Park Rd, Highland Park. ravinia.org; $30-80.

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