Take a cup of bluegrass, sprinkle in a liberal dose of psychedelic rock, throw in a couple of pinches of jazz and funk, and you have Greensky Bluegrass. The Grateful Dead were arguably the architects of the jam band formula. Multi set, 2 hours plus shows, covering songs and making them their own and extended jamming were hallmarks of Dead shows. Greensky Bluegrass has embraced this formula and the jam grass caravan stopped at the Palace Theater Saturday night.
The show opened with Baltimore’s alt-country rocker Cris Jacobs. Jacobs opened his set with an electrified Chateau Fuente cigar box lap guitar that would make Jack White jealous. Cris switched between to a Telecaster for a few tunes, donned an acoustic guitar then ended with the cigar box during his hour long set.
Greensky came on around 9:20, and opened with a super funky version of That’s What Love Will Make You Do, a Jerry Garcia Band staple. Paul Hoffman is a beast on the mandolin, shredding right out of the gate with Joe Satriani like licks. Michael Bont on the banjo kept up the sonic assault with mind melting licks throughout the show. The highlight of the first set for me was the jam to end the set, Broke Mountain Breakdown into Forget Everything and back into Broke Mountain Breakdown. Dobro savage Anders Becek pulled out this Uncle Johns Band meets Shakedown Street mutron infused jam that brought the crowd to Height Ashbury and back. Guitarist Dave Bruzza and upright bass player Mike Devol pull double duty, singing and acting as the rhythm section for the percussion-less band. Cris Jacobs joined the band for Luckiest Man, he and Bruzza trading licks like prize fighters.
The second set took of like the space shuttle, it seemed as if each song just extended into the next, and sandwiched in there was a phenomenal version of Pink Floyd’s Time>Breathe. However, the highlight for me was the extended jam between Leap Year and Just To Lie. Its was classic jam band gooey goodness, building up the tension just to release it before the masses go over the edge. The entire theater sang along to the encore, Drink Up And Go Home. The band played over 2 ½ hours total.