Photos & Review | Greensky Bluegrass & Fruition | New York

Images by: Suzy Perler
Words by: Scott Bernstein

Greensky Bluegrass :: Fruition :: 9.21.13 :: Bowery Ballroom :: New York, NY

This past Saturday night two bands on the rise visited The Big Apple, when Fruition and Greensky Bluegrass played before a large crowd at the Bowery Ballroom. Both acts have been performing in front of ever-growing audiences thanks to their original sounds and dynamic live shows. They each had fans moving and more importantly in a city known for its talkative crowds - hanging on every note.

When Fruition took the stage a little after 9 p.m. there were only a handful of audience members on the dance floor. The audience grew as the set continued with more than a few "wow, these guys are good" comments overheard. Fruition, a Portland, OR-based band, features lead guitarist/vocalist Jay Cobb Anderson, bassist Keith Simon, drummer Tyler Thompson, Kellen Asebroek on guitar and Georgia-born Mimi Naja on mandolin and vocals. The quintet kicked off their short set with three songs of their recently released Just One Of Them Nights LP, which showed off Fruition's rustic vibe, genre-bending sound and earnest songwriting. "Mountain Annie" was a particular highlight thanks to Anderson's strong and passionate vocal delivery as well as the group's high and lonesome harmonies. It's the type of song that you'll find yourself humming in the shower the next day. The group tipped their hat to local legends Velvet Underground with a riveting take on "Walk & Talk" that's deliciously far from what Lou Reed had originally envisioned.

Michigan's Greensky Bluegrass closed out the evening with two outstanding sets. GB is one of those bands that gets better each time out and Saturday night was no exception. It's not often you see a bluegrass band set up on stage with pedal boards in front of nearly every member, but Greensky Bluegrass are far from a typical bluegrass band. Be it Anders Beck's distorted dobro leads or Mike Devol's funky upright bass work, Greensky Bluegrass's sound takes just as much from rock as from bluegrass. The quintet has a huge repertoire and isn't afraid to lay down plenty of covers. The Bowery sets featured outstanding takes on The Beatles' "A Day In The Life," "The Shape I'm In" by The Band and Talking Heads' "Road To Nowhere," among others. It also helps that the Michigan natives know how to have a good time and do their best to engage the crowd with often hilarious banter.

At the heart of Greensky Bluegrass's music is mandolinist Paul Hoffman's endearing vocals. It was as if the world stopped when he sang, "It’s a New York minute, it’s a New Mexico sky" during "Dustbowl Overtures" - a highlight of the band's sets. The future's bright for Greensky Bluegrass if they keep leaving crowds aurally and emotionally satiated as they did on Saturday night at the Bowery Ballroom.

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[Published on: 9/25/13]

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