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Thursday, March 21

Greensky Bluegrass - The Palace - Missoula, MT - 3-5-2013


Playing in Missoula for the third time in less than a year and half it would seem that this formidable quintet of strings-men have a special place in their heart for this small college town and likewise the near sold out crowd shows that the good folks that reside here either as students at UM or residents in this quaint river laden area have taken an draw to this band, like two magnets it’s been hard to keep us apart.
Greensky, coming off of their most successful and accomplished album to date, Handguns, could easily get lost in the sea of “jam-grass” bands that have risen to great heights in the musical and jam friendly world over the past decade. They fit the mold that most of the bands that this movement has generated and in a lot of ways they deserve to be held in the same company as others such as the Stringdusters, Cornmeal, Railroad Earth and Yonder Mountain. The objective then for Greensky and each of these bands is standout when standing out is the thing to do. Greensky does this with what looks like ease by creating a form of jam influenced bluegrass music that I could only call Pro-Grass, or even better Progress. This progress that they exhibit night in and night out was prevalent in Missoula on March 5th at the very small Palace Lounge. The venue, a basement hideaway is wired with excellent audio and with their own soundboard, lights and stage arrangement in tow their show was once again a gift for all that attended.
The opened the show with a rip roaring “Kerosene” and jammed it out into a very dynamic cover of “Second that Emotion”. They have a great way of working in unison to jam out sequences of songs and even the entire parts of the show, this night was hardly the exception. Later after some new tunes and some older classics they covered Pink Floyd's “Time>Breathe Reprise” it was a definitive moment where the showed how they distinctly separate themselves from the other jambands out there on the scene. They are pure jam grass in the most progressive fashion, with amazing vocals to compliment great skills on all instruments.
The show felt to be flying by as they took a good 30 minutes between sets to rest and get us all more excited for the music to come. The opened the second set with a “Free Bird” themed “Freeborn Man” that built from a slow musical place taking it step by step up to full throttle before coming back down and back up again, it was a masterpiece, a musical roller-coaster and highlight in a show that was full of them. “Dust Bowl” and “What's Left of the Night” were more traditional bluegrass and were amazingly impressive, their diversity was shinning through as they played these storied songs from their building discography of renowned albums, the last two albums being produced by Railroad Earth fiddle player Tim Carbone. Getting the nearly sold out and seemingly packed venue dancing to every note, lick and lyric they brought out the amazing opening act, The Ryan Montbleu Band to encore with a somewhat Phishy, but more-so bluegrass take on “Boogie On Reggae Woman”.  Stevie Wonder himself would be impressed by how well the multiple musicians all worked on stage to close out a great night of music with an upbeat classic from the past. The show was nothing but surprises. The band was friendly and open to the fans in the crowd with plenty of fun stage banter, the music was the reason we came and from now on it will be the reason I will go back again and again to see Greensky Bluegrass, as they show their progress in this heavily dotted genre: jam bluegrass. They have made a name for themselves for what they are, and more importantly what they aren't. The happy crowd, cheered, danced and clapped as they all seemed to agree, you cant get enough of this great band. Thanks for coming back to Missoula!
Words: Samuel Martin

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