Greensky Bluegrass Dig into Old Tunes, Cover Ween, Keep Festival Vibes Flowing at Horning’s Hideout (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

While many parts of the country have been opening back up and hosting full-scale outdoor concerts (Phish tour anyone?) and festivals, the Pacific Northwest and specifically Oregon has been a little slower to get back into the swing of things. This is due in part to its geographic location away from closer touring routes but also to intensive and overly restrictive lockdowns. Horning’s Hideout outside of Portland, Oregon would normally be hosting the Northwest String Summit, but this year they opted for a more lowkey run of one-off shows. On Wednesday, July 28th, longtime String Summit favorites Greensky Bluegrass finished off a two-night run as part of the Peacock Pickin’ Party series hosted by the festival team.

With the sun starting to dip behind the trees, the members of Greensky Bluegrass took the stage and launched into a mellow first set that would find them reaching into their older repertoire. Songs like “Just to Lie,” “Labor of Love,” and “Jaywalking” showcased the band’s skills as singer-songwriters capable of balancing bluegrass, alt-country and folk. Newer song “It’s Not Mine Anymore” found the band diving into their jammier side with effects on the mandolin to make it sound like a warped psychedelic fiddle and Anders Beck laying down an electrifying dobro solo. They switched back to mellow on the slow and mournful waltz “Beauty and Pain,” the straightforward bluegrass road song “200 Miles from Montana,” the sunny island escapism of “Grow Bananas,” and the cautiously trippy “All For Money” that found them giving a taste of what was coming in set two.

Set two would offer up a contrast with a healthy dose of the kind of blast-off jam moments and unexpected twists that have long made Greensky such a live draw. Following a momentum-building “Wish I Didn’t Know,” the band quickly segued into a creative rendition of Ween’s “Exactly Where I’m At” that found that Michael Bont giving us a delightfully wonky banjo solo before sandwiching in a ZZ Top “La Grange” tease in tribute to the recently departed Dusty Hill, and finally cutting loose with an explosive, thoroughly jammed out “Freeborn Man” that pushed the audience into full festy dance mode. Local guitar slayer Scott Law would help the band traverse one feel-good musical moment after another on “Prom Night” and “Fixin’ to Run.” Bob Marley covers may be cliché, but the band absolutely nailed “Could You Be Love” while sending a message of unity after the rough eighteen months we’ve all had. The good vibes would continue with the set closer “Living Over” that featured a truly vibrant and hopeful dobro solo from Anders Beck.

Returning to the stage for a reliably satisfying take on “No Expectations,” Greensky concluded an extra special evening that marked a welcome return to live music with superb sound and production value for many in the audience. Though it felt a little different than the full-on festival environment of String Summit, the band managed to capture enough of that energy to make their fans feel right at home.

All photos by Greg Homolka

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