GREENSKY BLUEGRASS, HOLLY BOWLING
FEBRUARY 1, 2023
By Neil Shumate, OOTB Publications
Greensky Bluegrass entered the stage in classic laid back fashion; plugging in their stringed instruments and briefly tuning before breaking into the lively first track. Pianist Holly Bowling joined the band for the set.
Lengthy instrumental solos throughout the set stirred a country-western style conversation among the instruments—banjo, guitar, double bass, mandolin, dobro—occasional call and responses blended together to make cohesive storylines with coherent transitions, layered into the next instrument.
The intense, improvised breakdowns make the term “prog-bluegrass” household for the five-member band. Sometimes getting lost in a rocking psychedelic vibe, but always finding its way back to the path that leads to the original song with vocals.
Albeit unique on it’s own, transfixing and protruding lighting visuals along with backlit arches portrayed the light show energy of an Umphrey’s production. The band’s underground following bring together tour travelers and locals alike in the vein of Phish; singing along and sharing hugs as if at a family reunion.
The Michigan band recently released Stress Dreams, their 11th album, recorded during pandemic uncertainties. Having been together for more than twenty years, they continue to evolve and remain dominant with a continuously growing fan base that’ll never get enough of that live jam band style.
Opener Holly Bowling transformed the venue into a dining hall-like environment that could be pictured with a chandelier. Bowling performed straight forward classic piano with some effects toward her set’s close.
Only taking a few very short breaks, the pianist performed with vigor; sometimes pressing notes of despair, but dominating the set were upbeat notes of happiness with some recognizable covers.
The musician expressed visible emotion with head swerves and at times stood and leaned in to the ear-pleasing Yamaha. There were no lyrics, but the music spoke for itself as fans graciously applauded the nearly 45-minute set.