Viewing entries tagged
Andy Goessling

Strings & Sol Festival 2016 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico - Monday

Comment

Strings & Sol Festival 2016 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico - Monday

Strings & Sol Bluegrass Festival 2016

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Monday Highlights

The Infamous Stringdusters - Greensky Bluegrass - Yonder Mountain String Band

    And so, it was our last day in paradise once more.  However, there could be no sadness among us due to the simply phenomenal line-up in store for the final evening.  The Dusters, Greensky, and Yonder?  Not a bad way to round things out whatsoever!  And, certainly, with a head and heart filled with so many excellent memories at that point, everything to come was going to be icing on the bluegrass cake!  First up, it was time for some sunset action with The Infamous Stringdusters, main stage.  Kicking things off with “Light and Love” the band launched into their show with fantastic energy from the very beginning.  Not that that should be a big surprise to anyone familiar with a Dusters show.  So animated, so talented, so well-polished.  Suffice it to say, they deliver quite the performance every time and this one was no exception.  A little down the set, they catered right to this author’s heart by playing some delightful Pink Floyd in the form of “Fearless” which sounded absolutely fantastic.  And the inclusion of Andy Hall’s dobro in some Floyd?  Forget about it!  Incredible!  Travis Book summarily nailed down the vocals, clearly in very fine voice that evening.  An altogether excellent cover of an old favorite of mine.  Yet another bluegrass band that can really put together a wonderful cover experience for the audience.  Bravi, fellas!  Further into their set, the Dusters invited their good friend Nicki Bluhm out on stage to sing a couple of numbers with them.  The first of these was “Big Road Blues” which, true to form, was bluesy and funky and fun.  Really enjoyed this one.  Nicki sounded mighty fine on the lyrics, her voice so suited to this kind of music.  Between Hall’s dobro and Jeremy Garrett’s fiddle there was no shortage of flourishes and grace notes floating around this groovy musical texture.  Then Andy Falco’s guitar solo…my goodness.  Just how adept is that man at his instrument?  Insane!  What a rush of a good time — really dug this selection!!  They followed this up with one of their standards as of late:  “Run to Heaven”.  Man, did it ever sound good on the beach at sunset that evening.  Garrett’s fiddle and Hall’s dobro once again did a dance around one another all counterpointing Chris Pandolfi’s banjo excellence.  Ensemble-wise, there are few other bands out there better than these Dusters.  After Nicki left the stage to much applause for her lovely contributions to the show and a bit on down the line, the boys played some Grateful Dead for us all.  What a gift!  “Jack Straw” proved to be one of those pivotal moments of the fest when everyone just seems to lock into the experience.  Luckily, we captured that very experience on film for you!  Please enjoy the Dusters’s S&S version of “Jack Straw”: 

Chills, right?  Talk about tearing another cover up!  We were being treated to such incredibly great music…what luck and we all knew it!  Then, Jake Jolliff (Yonder Mountain String Band) joined the fellows on the main stage for a couple of pieces, packing his mandolin like a side iron.  “Wheel Hoss” proved to be one speeding freight train of string band magnificence.  So many notes from all those instruments for this tune.  Whether it was banjo or dobro or mando or fiddle, guitar, or bass it was a never-ending litany of note after precious note, melting into our ears, melting our faces.  Jake was on fire, of course, enjoying playing alongside ISD, clearly written on his face.  Garrett, of course, had to answer on fiddle, throwing down some serious solo work with his bow.  I mean, Falco, Panda, Book…all killed it.  Just killed it.  One of the more fun “Wheel Hoss” renditions I’ve been privy to.  Massively great job, guys!  Another cover was waiting around the corner and later on in the set:  the Police’s “Walking on the Moon”.  I really enjoy this one from the Dusters, always have.  Travis Book always does an excellent job with the vocals, really bringing this song to life.  Love those duet slides from Garrett and Hall in the beginning — what a cool sound, what a timbre!  Damn, were they in great form that night!  But, isn’t that what we’ve all come to expect from ISD?  Amazing shows each and every time?  I mean, right?  And this one fit the bill to a “t”.  It’s interesting to map out how shows make you feel…and I know how this one was making me feel.  Utterly happy.  Stupendous music will do that to you.  They finished up this stellar show with “Long Lonesome Day” and “Getting Down the Road”, quite the double-whammy closer.  Panda was all over the intro to “Lonesome Day” laying down some serious notes on his banjo which provided the perfect lead in for Travis on vocals.  Andy was a monster that dobro, showing just how incredible he is on his chosen instrument.  And, my goodness, do I love me some dobro!  Such good solo work from all the gents, to be honest…Falco dominated on guitar as usual, Jeremy made his fiddle sing like a well-trained soprano, it all sounded phenomenal.  This trend continued into “Getting Down the Road” which proved a very strong finish.  The band took the high energy of the night all the way to the end delivering one memorable show to be sure.  And the crowd loved it to the very last note.  How couldn’t we have?  It was just so good!  So many big thanks to the band and the folks that support them.  So happy to have had them at Strings & Sol this year!!

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters

    Greensky Bluegrass.  Just the name alone, right?  Exactly.  Darkness had fallen all around the brightly lit stage by that point, all of us having supped and refreshed and donned our party gear to help take this entire affair to a happy close.  The band walked out to great applause, all of us ready to get our groove on, Greensky style.  They opened the whole shebang with “Merely Avoiding”, Paul Hoffman sounding recording perfect straight out of the gate, both on vocals and mandolin.  And there was no denying the omnipresence of the sweet sound of Anders Beck’s dobro as he filled the song with bar after bar of delightful notes.  Mike Bont’s banjo duet with Hoffman’s mando a few minutes in was really tight from a musical texture perspective as well — really enjoyed that combined sound from those two adept gentleman.  Fantastic start and the crowd thought so as well.  This was followed by Dave Bruzza jumping up to the mic for one of the fine standards of the GSBG catalog:  “Worried About the Weather”.  Lots and lots of notes were coming from Bont’s side of the stage throughout this one counterpointed by Beck’s own lovely contributions coming from the opposite.  Of course, Bruzza’s own guitar chops are very much in need of mention — his solo at the two minute mark was absolutely gorgeous.  The more I hear that man play the more I want to hear that man play.  And talk about your sing-a-long crowd pleaser!  They took this directly into some more Pink Floyd for the evening, just warming my heart to no end.  “Time” from Floyd’s incredible and timeless Dark Side of the Moon album.  Man, do I just love GSBG’s version of this song!  From Hoffman kicking some serious ass on the vocals and making them his own to the stupendous ensemble sound coming from the entire band to the phenomenal solos from everyone that illuminated this music in such new and exciting ways, this one proved a huge favorite for the entire audience.  And how couldn’t it have been?  I mean we’re talking Greensky doing Floyd, my friends!!  How much better can it really get??  Bont was a madman…a madman I tell you all song long.  You could only see a blur where his fingers were supposed to be — so many freakin’ notes.  So excellent!  Bruzza certainly threw down his share of crazy good soloing following up Anders who had just delivered some lengthy and masterful melody work himself.  All around, I’d give the fellas an A+ for their mighty fine efforts here.  Might fine, indeed!  Thanks for catering to this long time Floyd fan, you guys!  Friends Andy Goessling (Railroad Earth) and Duke Davis joined the band for their next song, “Miss September” which was proved to be a pretty groovy damn time.  But, you needn’t take my word for it when you can see for yourself right here!! 

Not bad, right?  Not bad at all!  Pretty groovy damn time, indeed, right?  Well, that groove kept right on a-going when The Infamous Stringdusters and Nicki Bluhm joined the fellas on stage for some seriously good supergroup action.  Sadly, Travis Book didn’t make it out with ISD, but you could tell he was there in spirit for this big rendition of Clapton’s “After Midnight”.  As such, Mike Devol was working double overtime to provide that baller bass sound…no worries, my friends.  He did an outstanding job.  As always.  That man, the consummate professional.  What a steamroller of a song this one turned out to be…obviously.  So many excellent musicians on stage at one time.  My goodness!  It was almost too much.  Almost.  But not even remotely…I could watch that show for hours.  The Greenfamous Stringgrassers?  Yeah, I’d buy that ticket.  I can’t even begin to accurately describe for you all the stellar music that graced my ears during this song.  Banjos and guitars and mandolin and dobros and fiddle, oh my!!  Needless to say, it sounded like heaven.  And what a great song choice, too!  We were all very much into the entire vibe and loving every minute.  Lots and lots of happy faces in that crowd.  A little on down the set, the band welcomed Larry Keel and Danny Barnes up to join them for a fun version of “I’d Probably Kill You” which, as you guessed, morphed into “I’d probably Keel you” during the course of the number.  Nothing like getting the combined awesome grit of Keel and Barnes out there with GSBG — really makes for quite the necessary musical experience to witness.  Bruzza and Hoffman sang their duet in fine fashion, providing that melodic and lyric complement to the band and their pals.  Danny was, in a word, nasty on the banjo, really throwing down in only the way that he can.  So very good.  Larry, well, Larry was Larry, through and through.  Just shredding on guitar, owning every note.  It certainly can be said of both guests that they are true wizards on their chosen instruments.  You could tell how much the band truly enjoyed sharing the stage with them.  Finally, a little later on, they closed things out by playing a fantastic S&S version of “Living Over”.  It proved to be a perfect closing song for the night of music they had delivered to us, dancing on the beaches of the Now Sapphire in tropical and gorgeous Mexico.  So many cheers to the boys from Kalamazoo!  They did it again!  Bravi, fellas!!

Greensky Bluegrass with The Infamous Stringdusters and Nicki Bluhm

Greensky Bluegrass with The Infamous Stringdusters and Nicki Bluhm

    Unfortunately, due to some technical issues, most of my note files for Yonder Mountain String Band’s performance were corrupted.  As such, I can only report on a couple of songs.  My sincerest apologies for this, my friends.  And my sincerest apologies to the band.  My memories are all happy ones, though — Yonder really put on a fantastic closing show for Strings & Sol.  “Complicated” was fantastic and Ben Kaufmann really sounded amazing on the vocals.  Classic YMSB sound for this one, with the added bonuses of the newer recruits, of course.  Adam Aijala gave us a beautiful solo on guitar a few minutes in that was just lovely to behold.  Allie’s fiddle was also a gorgeous addition to the mix of this song, doling out a truly fine solo run of her own.  All in all, it was mighty pretty version of this Yonder standard.  The encore from their show was pretty phenomenal, too.  Lots of friends joining them:  Bruzza, Devol, Drew Emmitt (Leftover Salmon), Beck, and Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth) — what a cast of characters to close down the fest’s last song.  Lou Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” was on the menu and Dave Johnston was on the lead to take us all home.  What a version of this one, too!  Especially with all the various folks on stage doing the back up parts.  Pretty hilarious but pretty amazing, as well.  Certainly a great way to end things on a high note for this unparalleled festival experience.  Many thanks to Yonder for closing it all so well and keeping the energy going until the last note.  Fantastic!

Yonder Mountain String Band and Friends

Yonder Mountain String Band and Friends

    And, so, we said good-bye to another four days of music in the lovely Riviera Maya on the coast of eastern Mexico.  Cloud 9 had outdone themselves once again — this had been my favorite Strings & Sol thus far.  It really is such an incredible festival with so much going so right all around the bend.  The line-up was stellar this time just as always, the staff at the Now Sapphire and the resort itself were wonderful and charming…truly I have no notes for Strings & Sol whatsoever.  Except maybe one:  please don’t change a thing!  A huge round of applause to everyone who had a hand in making this year’s S&S go off so very well!  It was, as always, the experience of a lifetime and I know I cannot wait to get back in 2017!  Thanks for reading, everyone, and get yourself to Mexico this year!

Comment

Strings & Sol Festival 2015 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico - Thursday

2 Comments

Strings & Sol Festival 2015 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico - Thursday

Strings & Sol Festival 2015

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Introduction

     You’d think that it having been my second Strings & Sol would make it all the easier to write about this singularly wonderful and wonderfully unique festival held for the past four years along Mexico’s Mayan Riviera coast.  You'd think that, right?  It would seem just the opposite is the case this year after returning from four magnificent days of some of the world’s finest string band music played to a delighted multitude whose dancing feet sent sand a-flying, the crystalline, sugary beach proving the perfect surface on which to boogie down.  Strings & Sol just gets so much so right as a festival it is hard to pick just what to write about for fear of transcribing the whole thing into an article entirely too long to read.  From the very resort itself (the absolutely lovely Now Sapphire with its incredible and highly attentive staff) to all the organizations represented (Strings & Sol, Cloud 9, and Positive Legacy) who worked so tirelessly to put on the most supremely awesome festival possible everything was top notch at every turn.  The setting was tropical and magical throughout with playful birds and coy coatimundi clowning about the palms and lush underbrush as you walked towards the flour-white beach and to the music.  The music was the finest the grass world had to offer that weekend all in one place and time.  In short, it is one of the very best and best run festivals out there at present, hands down.  I would highly consider this festival for your future endeavors if you can make it — trust me, saving up for this one is not only worth it, it makes it more than worth it in the first couple of days.  Unless you hate impossibly good music, that is.  Or the beautiful beach.  Or the gorgeous ocean.  Or flowing fonts of endless beverages of your choice.  Or all your best friends dancing to badass bluegrass.  Stop me when it all starts to sound too good to be true.  A thousand thanks go out to all those who had a hand in making Strings & Sol 4 so fabulous this year — your hard work was very much appreciated by all of us in attendance!  And a thousand thanks to all the musicians who played their hearts out for us all each and every day — your passion and commitment to your art is a joy to experience and behold, a treasure through and through!  And, speaking of music, I think we had better get to it, what say you?

Vince Herman & Larry Keel

Vince Herman & Larry Keel

Thursday Highlights

Yonder Mountain String Band - Leftover Salmon - Sam Bush Band (Late Night)

     Yonder Mountain String Band was first out of the gate to welcome us all to this festival on the beach and I can’t think of a better way to get things started.  Jumping out onto the stage with some good friends (Larry Keel and Tim Carbone) they ripped things apart with a monster “Traffic Jam” as their first number.  Larry Keel took this opportunity to throw down a particularly nasty solo on guitar which was answered by Tim on fiddle.  Nothing like Yonder plus their buddies…seems to always make for a wall of incredible sound.  And then there was the ridiculous fiddle duet between Allie Kral and Tim Carbone that Jake Jolliff answered with his own unreal playing.  And then, wham!  It was over.  Wow, what a way to get things going!  Then we got a great little cover with Allie on lead for us for “Bad Reputation” which the band approached with a lightness and playfulness.  They followed this with quick and fun “I Know You Rider” and then “Night Out”.  The dark and dusky “Saint in the City” came after featuring each member of the band on their respective instruments throughout the song.  They took this directly into “Landfall” then right back into “Saint in the City” with Ben on lead vocals.  Adam had a sizzling hot solo on guitar during the second half of “Saint” and, not to be outdone, Jake responded with a face melter of his own on mando.  The light and lively instrumental “Up for Brinkley’s” was next up in line featuring Mr. Jolliff on his magic mandolin — why not take a look and listen for yourself? 

Pretty amazing stuff, no doubt.  How does he do it folks??  The world may never know.  After “Another Day” that contained a very nice banjo solo work from Dave the band invited some more guests out to share the fun with them, this time Larry Keel, John Skeehan (Railroad Earth), and Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass), for a lengthy and crazy good “Pass This Way” into “EMD” back into “Pass This Way”.  Again, though, why not take a look and listen? 

Later on down the line to finish this fantastic opening set for S&S 4, the band landed on a hot “All Aboard” into “New Dusty” back into “All Aboard” with the indomitable Allie Kral taking lead vocals to spearhead this ever-expanding jam of theirs.  I was talking with Ted Atwell, Yonder’s awesome lightning guru, about “All Aboard” at the festival and we agreed that each and every subsequent time the band plays it, the song just keeps getting better and better and better.  And this time was no exception!  Epic jam through “New Dusty” back into “All Aboard” — all the requisites one looks for in worthy and worthwhile musical experience.  What a way to get us all ready for some Leftover Salmon to come!

Yonder Mountain & Friends

Yonder Mountain & Friends

    Salmon.  Main Stage.  Strings & Sol.  Bring it.  Leftover came out to take over where Yonder left off, ready to incite a near riot of joy with their perfectly unique style of string band music.  And, having the likes of Sam Bush on fiddle and Jay Starling join them on dobro from the get go, life was going to be good all around as soon as they started playing.  And none other than Hartford’s “Steam Powered Aereoplane” to get things started, too!  I must admit, I really, truly love this song.  I love Hartford’s original and I love Salmon’s version.  And I indubitably loved this version.  Sam and Jay just added so much with their particular instrumental mastery.  Another perfect opening selection from a fantastic band.  They kept the ball rolling along with “Liza” next up which ended up showcasing just about everyone on stage by the song’s finish.  Of note would be Starling’s excellent dobro stylings and Andy’s banjo badassery.  What about Sam’s fiddle finery?  Well, yes, I must admit there was plenty, plenty of that as well.  A very appropriate tropical-tinged selection for our Riviera Maya setting — nothing but fun after the setting sun at S&S!  “Western Skies” was up next featuring Drew Emmitt on lead vocals not to mention some sweet mandolin work from the same.  Alwyn Robinson had this incredible drum solo during a long a lengthy jam that followed “Western Skies” — it was one hell of a breakdown to be sure with everyone taking a moment to lose their ever-loving mind while playing their instrument like a maniac.  Entertaining?  You betcha!  The oh-so apropos “Gulf of Mexico” was up next for us in the musical pipeline for the evening.  This one was at both times album perfect and filled with live-show attitude — that perfect mixture of all the right things for a supreme music experience.  Add into that a remarkable Andy Thorn banjo solo and you get precisely what you want!  After “Gulf” came the Andy Thorn-led and dominated “Colorado Mountains Evermore” with Sam Bush on fiddle and Jay Starling on dobro.  This one was really special, my friends…such good music.  But don’t take my word for it: 

Later on down the line we got a madcap “Let’s Give a Party” (but, let’s face it, which version of this song isn’t madcap?) which drove the assembled crowd to an appropriate frenzy.  So much fun.  So much madness.  So much perfect.  Later still we were gifted with a Strings & Sol version of “Mama Boulet”, with Vince changing lots of lyrics to suit the fest and atmosphere.  A blistering, and I mean blistering, hot “Midnight Run” came after with Drew on lead vocals.  Vince had a smoking guitar solo in this one as well as pretty much everyone else on stage.  Hard drivin’, fast pickin’ of the finest caliber, my friends.  Unbelievably great music.  Then the band decided to tear “Keep Drivin’” into tiny little jammed-out pieces in front of our eyes and ears — the band was on fire that night.  According to Vince before they began, this is the song that “got the girl”, aka helped him to get his new wife to marry him.  What a sweet story.  And you have to love Strings & Sol for all the background that comes your way as a result of being there.  It’s always nice having Bonnie Paine of Elephant Revival join you onstage on washboard as well.  A musical treat to be sure.  “Two Highways” followed with Drew on lead and also featuring a great solo from Sam on fiddle followed by a monster, monster electric guitar solo from Drew.  All of this to the metronomic, funked-up backdrop of Alwyn on the drums.  Incredible version of this one.  Silas Herman (Gipsy Moon), Jake Jolliff (YMSB), and Larry Keel then jumped up on the stage to join in their fun times and to accentuate ours.  Andy Thorn led this super-dupergroup with “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart” (made famous by Janis Joplin) and it was epic.  So much soloing.  So much face melting.  So much singing along.  So much freaking fun!  So much interplay between those three mandolins, too.  Truly spell-binding.  Just the smiles on their faces as they traded off, style to style, method to method, man to man.  Really interesting from an audience standpoint.  After so much wonderful, they closed things with a raucous and riveting Drew-led number featuring so many guests and so much hard drivin’, fast pickin’ it was almost over before we all knew it.  One superbly great show from a superbly great band.  There really isn’t much more to say.  Accept that it was so awesome as to render me speechless.  So I had best get to Sammy and his band, right?

Leftover & Friends

Leftover & Friends

    Late night in the palapa was about as fun as fun can get each night.  And the first night was precisely that with the Sam Bush Band.  People embrace the weirdness of the night with all sorts of dress and costumery from a mere speedo to being dressed in “Dumb and Dumber” tuxedos and everything in between.  It was a party atmosphere to be sure and the music of Sam Bush certainly drove that home in spades.  He and his band sounded incredible all night, featuring nothing but hard drivin’, fast pickin’ with drums to provide that boom and crash.  A notable selection from his setlist was a rock’n’roll fire hot version of “Midnight Rider” which sounded, in a word, badass.  Andy Goessling (Railroad Earth) and Drew Emmitt (Leftover Salmon) both joined in for this one and it was pretty damn awesome.  They even managed to work in an “I Just Want to Celebrate” tease into this one.  “Rollin’ in My Sweet Baby’s Arms” was another fine selection from their rep that evening, or should I say morning.  Probably one of the best versions of this song I’ve ever heard.  Such incredible musicianship.  Sam and his band really brought down the house, certainly making it hard to even consider going to bed afterwards.  Too much goodness down in the soul.  So many thanks to the Sam Bush Band for providing the perfect bookend to a fabulous evening of music at Strings & Sol 4.  And tonight was only the first!!!

Sam Bush Band

Sam Bush Band

Be sure to stay tuned for Friday’s fun!

2 Comments