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Jam Central Station: Greensky Bluegrass Concert Review – 2.7.18 – Cleveland, OH

February 17, 2018 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski

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Greensky Bluegrass coming to town is always an event as far as I’m concerned. The band tours relentlessly, and I’ve never seen them take a night off. They make every show an event, whether it’s on weekend run or a middle of the week “Casual Wednesday.” The band has been in rare form in recent months, bringing top-notch sets to nearly every show so far in 2018. Their two sets in Cleveland were on par with everything I’ve heard from them recently, which means that it was easily one of the best shows that will come through town this year.

Greensky spent the evening mixing their newer tunes and modern style with some great classics and instrumentals. The band opened up with a tribute to John Barlow with their version of “Cassidy,” which was a nice extended jam that showed how well the Dead music can fit into the bluegrass world. A nice extended jam and the band segued directly into “The Four.” with Anders Beck standing out on the dobro with some great work in fills and solos. Throughout the night Beck would be a highlight, often showcasing his talents as a soloist or playing fills weaved around someone else’s solos. It’s a trait the band brought out throughout the night, with multiple players working solos at the same time and playing off of each other. An instrumental “Indian Trail” led by the banjo came out next, followed by the Dave Bruzza led “Reuben’s Train.” Hoffman and Bont shared a solo between verses and the dobro took the end of the song with some solid slide work.

The band brought out Hoffman’s songwriting talent and emotional side on the next couple songs. “Past My Prime” and “Fixin’ To Ruin” are two great examples of Hoffman’s recent songwriting and introspective songwriting. Hoffman’s songwriting has moved away from traditional bluegrass over the years, but the band adds their flair to these singer/songwriter type tunes. Bruzza took the mic again for “Cold Feet” before Beck led the band through “Casual Wednesday” where the band not only honored all Wednesdays but also took time to recognize Dave Bruzza’s birthday on this one. The band then had Bruzza lead them through an extremely fast-paced “Letter to Seymour” before closing out the first set with “Last Winter In Copper Country” with Josh Davis and Andy Wilson sitting in. The verses were traded off by Davis and Hoffman while Andy added harmonica behind the band throughout the song. Hoffman also laid down my favorite solo of his from the night in the middle of the song, building things up and down before sharing the space with the other guys on stage. The song closed the set on a nice dark note.

The second set opened with some great string work again from Hoffman with Beck and Bont backing things up on “Who is Frederico” before moving into “No Idea.” Bluegrass isn’t always known as music with a “groove,” but Greensky finds a great one on this tune, and Beck adds so much with well-placed slide fills. Things sped up a 14 minute massive “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone” that included a little “Norwegian Wood” tease from Beck before hitting the slowest part of the evening with the emotional “More Of Me.”

The second half of the set got underway with more bluegrass Bont picking his way through the classic “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” and the band ripping through the Flatt & Scruggs tune. That was a nice touch before moving back into some Hoffman tunes with a very jammed out “Lose My Way.” Bruzza did some great guitar work on his extended solo on this one and the band kept the song from getting stale over nearly 12 minutes. A relatively short “Merely Avoiding” gave way to the bluegrass pinnacle of the night, a nearly 20 minute “Broke Mountain Breakdown.” Everyone moved around everyone else in a nice musical dance until the breakdown about 5 minutes in that included more distorted dobro under a slick banjo run that moved the song forward. The jam kept going and winding through different themes before closing out with another distorted dobro run and then moving into a set-closing cover of “Dancing In The Dark.” The band serenaded the crowd for the encore with “Drink Up And Go Home,” an appropriate closer for a Wednesday night in Cleveland.

It is tough to do a weeknight show, especially one that is guaranteed to last late into the evening. But Greensky Bluegrass is a band that always makes it worthwhile. Their Cleveland show hit on many of the things that they do well, and the band kept the crowd engaged throughout the night. There’s a reason their recently announced Camp Greensky festival will almost definitely sell out. This is a band with a great following, amazing songwriting, and an unmatched ability to mix classic bluegrass with modern jamgrass. I’ve called Greensky Bluegrass my favorite band touring today, and this show is a great indicator as to why.

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Camp Greensky announces lineup
Greensky Bluegrass recently announced their inaugural Camp Greensky festival, and the lineup dropped this week. Artists in the first wave joining Greensky Bluegrass at this festival include Jeff Tweedy, Mike Gordon, Trampled By Turtles, Billy Strings, Fruition, and others. More artists are still to be announced, but this is a nice start for the festival.

Dickey Betts announces tour dates
Dickey Betts will return to the road this summer. The legendary guitarist retired in 2014 but is back with a few dates.

May 17 Macon, GA—TBA
May 19 Boca Raton, FL—Sunset Cove Amphitheater
July 15 Long Island Music Fest
July 20 Ridgefield, CT—Ridgefield Playhouse
July 21 Staten Island, NY—St. George Theater
July 22 Scranton, PA—Peach Fest

String Cheese Incident announce Oregon dates
The String Cheese Incident will only play two headlining shows on the West Coast this year. They’ll be held on July 5-6 at the Cuthbert Ampitheatre in Eugene, OR.

Trampled By Turtles announces return
After an extended break, Trampled By Turtles announced a return to the road as well as a new album. Life Is Good On The Road will be released on May 4th, followed by a tour supporting the album.

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Winter WonderGrass
February 21-23
Steamboat Springs, CO
Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, Elephant Revival, Horseshoes & Handgrenades, Travelin’ McCoury’s, Fruition, Billy Strings

Suwannee Spring Reunion
March 22-25
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
The Infamous Stringdusters, Donna the Buffalo, Larry Keel Experience, Dar Williams, Billy Strings, Amy Helm, The Grass is Dead

Winter Wondergrass Tahoe
April 6-8
Squaw Valley, CA
The Devil Makes Three, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Elephant Revival, The California Honeydrops, Steep Canyon Rangers, Fruition, The Lil’ Smokies

Wannee Festival
April 19-21
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, North Mississippi Allstars, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 20-22
Centennial Park
Atlanta, GA
String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sturgill Simpson, Vulfpeck, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Papadosio, The Record Company, Spafford, Southern Avenue

MerleFest
April 26-29
Wilkes Community College
Wilkesboro, NC
Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Sam Bush, The Devil Makes Three, Donna the Buffalo, The Way Down Wanderers, Wesley Bright & The Honeytones

Charm City Bluegrass Festival
April 27-28
Druid Hill Park
Baltimore, MD
The Devil Makes Three, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The Steeldrivers, Jeff Austin Band, Billy Strings, Larry Keel Experience

Domefest
May 17-19
Fort Royale Farm
Bedford, PA
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

DelFest
May 24-27
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The Bluegrass Congress, Old Crow Medicine Show, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Jerry Douglas Band, The Wood Brothers, Elephant Revival, Fruition, Billy Strings

Summer Camp
May 25-27
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee

Dark Star Jubilee
May 25-27
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
Dark Star Orchestra, Los Lobos, Infamous Stringdusters, Hot Tuna, The Nth Power, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Camp Greensky
May 31-June 2
Wellston, MI
Greensky Bluegrass, Jeff Tweedy, Trampled By Turtles, Fruition, Billy Strings

Music on the Mothership
June 1-3
Taos, NM
moe., Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Rising Appalachia, Antibalas, Assembly of Dust, Fruition, Nicki Bluhm, Melvin Seals

Bonnaroo
June 7-10
Manchester, TN
Eminem, Muse, The Killers, Bassnectar, The Revivalists, Rebelution, STS9, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty, Spafford, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Blue Ox Music Festival
June 14-16
Eau Claire, WI
Greensky Bluegrass, The Devil Makes Three, Sam Bush, Del McCoury Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Margo Price, Billy Strings

Mountain Jam
June 15-17
Hunter Mountain, NY
Jack Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, alt-J, The War On Drugs, Portugal. The Man, The Decembrists, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Rag n’ Bone Man, Turkuaz, The Record Company

Electric Forest Weekend 1
June 21-24
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Andy Frasco & The UN, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

Electric Forest Weekend 2
June 28-July 1
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Fruition, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

High Sierra
July 5-8
Quincy, CA
String Cheese Incident, Sturgill Simpson, Lettuce, The Wood Brothers, Turkuaz, Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, Fruition, Spafford

Camp Bisco
July 12-14
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
The Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar, Excision, Bonobo, The Floozies, Lettuce, TAUK, Lotus, Papadosio

The Ride Festival
July 14-15
Telluride, CO
The String Cheese Incident, Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Something

Peach Festival
July 19-22
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Gov’t Mule, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Dicky Betts, moe., Twiddle, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Blackberry Smoke, Turkuaz, Leftover Salmon, The Main Squeeze,

Northwest String Summit
July 19-22
Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Fruition, Mandolin Orange, Steep Canyon Rangers

Floydfest
July 25-29
Floyd, VA
Foster the People, The Infamous Stringdusters, Hiss Golden Messenger

Element Music Festival
July 26-29
Snug Lake Ampitheatre
British Columbia
Lotus, Spafford, Particle

Lockn
August 23-26
Arrington, VA
Dead & Company, Widespread Panic, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Sheryl Crowe, Lettuce, George Clinton & P-Funk, Blues Traveler, Matisyahu, Spafford, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

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Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!

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