Strings & Sol Festival
Festival Experience Archive
for The Lot Scene by Parker
Leftover Salmon - Greensky Bluegrass - Yonder Mountain String Band
Sunday Funday. No matter how many times you say it, it still doesn't make it any less true. And what a Funday Sunday was this year at Strings & Sol. After three days of mind-bendingly good music, we could all barely stand any more…but suffer through we did. For the music, of course. But if you call Leftover Salmon for a sunset show “suffering” well, I think you had best realign your priorities. Salmon? Hot damn-on!! Love. That. Band. The sheer happy and joy they bring to a show that blankets the audience in a smiling embrace makes each and every time I see them so very worth it. And this time was absolutely the case. The LoS boys kicked things off with a motoring “Get Up and Go”, the first note inciting a dancing fiesta in the sands in front of the stage. Such great advice in those lyrics as Vince sang the lead. Sometimes you really just have to “get up and go”, you know? One kickass banjo solo was included as well in this merry-making first song care of Andy Thorn. Wow, what a start! Up next was a smoking “On the Other Side” which we recorded and bring to you now:
Wish I could celebrate the sunset everyday this way. The fast pickin’ thrill ride “Aquatic Hitchhiker” followed and sizzled the entire way through. Love that deceptive beginning…it so belies the fire to ensue. Andy Thorn. My word, what skills. What ridiculously incredible skills. Nothing like watching Drew Emmitt more than hold his own on mando at the same time, too. What hard drivin’ pair, those two. And Vince? The whole time simply spanking it on guitar. Wowsers. The next song had us all singing up to the moon that evening as the darkness slowly fell around us, the waves lapping against the shore a constant background sound juxtaposed to the mighty music from the stage. Vince Herman, ladies and gents! “Sing Up to the Moon” is always a crowd pleaser and it sure pleased all of us, his crooning and strumming like that of a favorite uncle. Or even a father. Papa Vince. I like that. Later on down the set we got the steam train that is “Breakin’ Thru” with Drew on lead vocals followed by the lighthearted and bouncing “Boo Boo”. Of great note was Alwyn Robinson’s monster, monster drum solo in “Boo Boo” — holy crap! That guy is a machine!! Moving on down the line we got a nice “Highway Song” and later still a huge treat in the form a four fiddle chorus care of Luke Bulla, Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth), Drew Emmitt, and Sam Bush all on fiddle for “Bend in the River”. Plus the whole Salmon sound to boot? It was riveting. Truly. So much awesome power on that stage all in one place. So much fiddle!! And then it was time for a little T. Rex. Yeah, that’s right. T. Rex. “Bang a Gong” was an unexpected treat from a band who loves to specialize in the unexpected. Anders Beck joined in the fun as well on electric dobro. Vince sounded great on the vocals and the band took the opportunity to really jam it out in the middle. Supremely gratifying, my friends. Especially with all those fiddles still hanging around. Dayum!! They finished things off with a little John Hartford, “Up on the Hill Where They Do the Boogie”, one of my very favorite songs no matter who plays it. Anders and the fiddlers stuck around for this one, too. The jams, oh the jams, my friends!! Epic!! An incredibly perfect way to end a sunset show at Strings & Sol. Big time thanks to the band and all their guests for such a fun time!
Dumping a little “Kerosene” on the stage before you set it aflame is usually a pretty good approach. Especially if you are Greensky Bluegrass. And you are into melting faces with your impossibly good music. Dave Bruzza’s vocals and Anders Beck’s dobro, you ask? About as freaking amazing as Bont’s banjo and Hoffman’s mando. Big solos all around. This song was, in a word, hot. Red hot. Another great choice for a great opener. They continued things with “Wings for Wheels”, another Bruzza lead, which sounded fantastic. Some really great instrumental work throughout. But why take my word for it when you can see it right here?
Miss Allie Kral (Yonder Mountain) stepped up to join them for a couple of numbers, first of which was “All Four”. Second was a favorite cover of mine (and of many, many in the crowd), “Atlantic City”. This one sounded as good if not better than I have ever heard them play it, no small part going to Allie for some excellent fiddle work. Just lovely. Later on we got the ever morose and foreboding “Bring Out Your Dead” which sounded especially dark there on the beach with the black ocean stretching to the starlit horizon. Chilling. Friend Andy Goessling (Railroad Earth) jumped up to guest in on sax on a couple of songs with the GSBG boys. First was “Less Than Supper” and “Lose My Way” followed. Andy’s mellow saxophone lines really did make the perfect complement to the strings of the band. Both songs really sounded quite marvelous. Paul’s duet in “Lose” with Andy was pretty special. Anders and Andy also enjoyed some incredible interplay between instruments — really awesome stuff. “Fell in love with the four chord, I didn’t need any more…” Ah, what a line. A line from “The Four”, of course, which was the next song in line and which sounded superb. Then, after some “Windshield” action and “Jaywalking” (with Tim Carbone) the band had a real treat for us all: some Paul Simon. Hells to the yeah. They covered “Gumboots” with Tim still on stage playing along and it sounded magnificent. Of course, I am a huge Simon fan. But even those completely unfamiliar with Paul or his music would have loved this one. Another perfect cover for this band…amidst a veritable sea of perfect covers they already do. Bravi, boys — loved this one! Then it was time for Larry Keel to join in the fun for a very special “I’d Probably ‘Keel’ You” with Bruzza changing the lyrics a bit here and there for Larry’s benefit. Always nice to have Larry share a stage with you. Indeed. Which he continued to do for “Hit Parade of Love” that followed. They finally brought this brute of a show to a close with “Leap Year”. Bam. Just like that. And in your face. Damn, what a show. As I said before: impossibly good music.
The final main stage show of Strings & Sol 4. Wow, did it really go by that quickly? Alas, much like summer camp, good things like S&S fly by in an instant. But there was still some Yonder yet to be had and we were to have it! “Blue Collar Blues” directly into an album-perfect “Mother’s Only Son” featuring some great banjo licks from Dave and back into “Blue Collar” was the way YMSB opened their set. Big opening. Huge. White hot fast pickin’. We all knew we were in for a goliath of a show. “Rain Still Falls” followed next which we have for you here, please enjoy:
Everyone sounding on point all around. Next up was came “Bold to Ride” which featured some really fine fiddle work from Miss Allie Kral. I mean supremely fine. Later on down the set they invited Sam Bush, Larry Keel, and Robbie McCoury (Del McCoury Band) up for “They” taken directly into “Casualty” both of which were pretty incredible. Kind of hard to have that kind of star power on stage with you and not make incredible music. Allie’s signature “Love Before You Can’t” was up next for us, all of us basking in her reflected glory. Then a nice surprise with a Jake-led vocal for America’s “Sister Goldenhair”. Great selection for this band and Jake sounded really good on the lyrics. Very impressed…let’s give him the mic more often. And a what a quick-paced, grassed-up version, too! A bit later in the set the band busted out a big “Northern Song” into “Pockets” back into “Northern” joined by Luke Bulla, Scott Vestal (Sam Bush Band), and Paul Hoffman (Greensky Bluegrass). Some big sound emanating from that stage. And a fiddle duet? You betcha! Magnificent. Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacherman” was next on the docket and Allie just nailed this one down to the ground. And with all those guests still on stage with them, too. Spectacular. After a huge “Angel” directly into “Robots” back into “Angel” closer it was encore time out there on the darkened beach. “Drawing a Melody” and “Oh La La” were the encores that evening but “Oh La La” took the cake. Almost every musician present at Strings & Sol came out to guest for this one. It was breathtaking, just seeing them all up there together. So many happy vibes, so many smiles, so many great memories. Such a great way to close things down at S&S.
Strings & Sol 4 was, in a word, fantabulous. There is little else to say but thanks so much to all those who had any hand in making this fest go as smoothly and as wonderfully as it did. You have made so many of us lifelong converts to S&S and with good reason. Please, on behalf of all of us, I beseech you, continue to kick ass and put together the best little grass fest outside US borders!!! Cannot wait for next year!!