Spring is in the air (and also in many of our basements), which means it is finally time for the spring Columbus BrewGrass Festival (Mar 2 and 3 at The Bluestone). As detailed in our preview of the Columbus BrewGrass Festival, the lineup for the inaugural festival is solid from the bottom up. Greensky Bluegrass is on tap to headline both nights, which is worth the very reasonable price of admission by itself.
Friday night has Cincinnati favorites Rumpke Mountain Boys and psychedelic jamgrass act the Kitchen Dwellers. Saturday will see back-to-back sets from two flatpicking gods–Larry Keel (rare solo performance) and Billy Strings. Billy Strings and his band are an absolute can’t miss and I would happily make the short trip to Columbus to see Billy play at such a cool venue.
To put this event over the top, there will be music from local acts between main stage sets in a separate beer hall at the venue where Rhinegeist, Jackie O’s, and The Actual Brewing Company will be serving up favorites and rarities alike.
Greensky Bluegrass members Anders Beck (dobro), Michael Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (upright bass) and Paul Hoffman (mandolin) played the Madison Theater back on Feb. 9th–as they took the stage, they immediately fired up an expansive 12+ minute version of the fan-favorite Kerosene, an old-timey type tune that the band typically uses to launch into an improvisational jam, and as they did on this occasion. The band kept the crowd moving through the first set, which included a rendition of what might be their most popular song Living Over and a set-closing cover of The Band’s Shape I’m In. The latter is one of my personal favorite tunes and GSBG and guests did it plenty of justice. It’s easy to just play a song by The Band, but to give it the spirit it deserves the crowd needs to feel that they’re a part of a celebration, and that’s exactly the feeling I had as the group walked off stage for set break.
The 2nd set started with Doin’ My Time before a loose improv jam weaved through Dry County and eventually landed on a stellar Time/Breathe Pink Floyd cover. The balcony view really allowed me to soak up the awesome stage production from the group, namely the dazzling light show that is always spot on in capturing the fluid movement between tempos and moods from the band (check out the photos from Ron Valle!). GSBG quickly launched into another radio-friendly sing-along in Windshield, and kept the impressive set moving all the way through a raucous set-closing 17+ minute Leap Year and a perfect encore cover of The Wood Brothers’ Luckiest Man.
As always, GSBG left me wanting more. Luckily, I’m going to get two more nights this weekend. So if you missed them in Covington, you have your chance to make amends in Columbus (but hurry, it’s nearly sold out!).