Greensky Bluegrass Honors Allman Brothers Band At Beacon Theatre Debut

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Greensky Bluegrass continued their rise up the ladder of New York City venues on Saturday night when they performed at the legendary Beacon Theatre for the first time. The Beacon hosted well over 200 The Allman Brothers Band concerts between 1989 and 2014, so it was only fitting Greensky ended the evening by honoring the Allmans with a cover of “Midnight Rider.”

Just seven years ago Greensky couldn’t fill the tiny — and now shuttered — Sullivan Hall in Greenwich Village. Since that time, the five-piece’s legion of “Campers” in the NYC area has grown exponentially. Shows at The Gramercy Theater, Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Irving Plaza, PlayStation Theater and other region venues led to their most prestigious New York City performance yet. GSBG made the most of the opportunity by mixing gems from their soon-to-be-released All For Money studio album with a number of classic originals and a handful of choice covers.

The action began with a set from instrumental jam quartet Circles Around the Sun. Greensky has a knack for picking just the right support acts and CATS kept that streak alive. Guitarist Neal Casal, drummer Mark Levy, bassist Dan Horne and keyboardist Adam MacDougall treated the large crowd to groovy tunes that hinted at chord progressions dreamed up by the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band over the course of a short-but-sweet performance. Circles wasted little time getting down to it as they opened with a 15-minute “On My Mind,” the first track on the group’s 2018 album Let It Wander. Horne laid down a deep and groovy bass line reminiscent of “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” as Casal and McDougall took their time building solos to frothy peaks. The “Shakedown Street”-esque “Gilbert’s Groove” was another highlight of the four-song set.

Greensky kicked off their first of two sets with “Demons” from 2014’s If Sorrows Swim. All five members pulled off a few choregraphed leaps and showed off the tightness that comes from more than 10 years on the road with few breaks. “What You Need” was the audience’s first taste of All For Money and featured a passionate vocal delivery from mandolinist Paul Hoffman. Guitarist Dave Bruzza then stepped into the spotlight for the oldie “Wings For Wheels” ahead of a spot-on transition into Pink Floyd’s “Time.” While “bluegrass” is such a big part of GSBG’s sound that the term is included in their name, the five musicians come from a rock background and are among the best in the business at mixing the genres. It doesn’t hurt that their light show is much more akin to a Phish concert than a Del McCoury Band show. The wild light show was especially impressive during the “Time” and “Breathe Reprise” that followed.

Fan-favorite “Kerosene” came next along with All For Money’s “Ashes.” Then, Greensky tore into a 17+ minute “Leap Year.” Dobroist Anders Beck led his mates to adventurous jam spaces during his time fronting the improv. GSBG went on to end the set with “Do It Alone” from All For Money, a song perfectly described by Hoffman as “a windows-down rock and roll tune.” Both Paul and Anders took opportunities during the night to mention what a special occasion playing the Beacon was for the band, how far they’ve come from performing at “dumps” in New York City, the joy they get from jamming together and the excitement they feel for the new LP.

The quintet kept the new material coming by opening the second set with the title track from All For Money. Beck explained the title of the song and album is tongue-in-cheek as they most definitely don’t do what they do just for the money. Greensky then pulled the catchy “Past My Prime” from 2016’s Shouted, Written Down & Quoted. This is one jam band that earns high marks for their songwriting and singing skills. Next came “More Of Me” from the 2016 LP ahead of killer covers of Paul Simon’s “Gumboots” and John Hartford’s “Steam Powered Aeroplane.” The former is the product of a legendary musician from New York City, while the latter featured a lyric change from “high up over Kansas City” to “high above New York City.”

Greensky continued to display the diversity of their catalog with All For Money ballad “Murder Of Crows,” a fun romp through “I’d Probably Kill You” featuring a shout out to friend Billy Strings and a long and exploratory “Don’t Lie.” Each member of the band had a chance to shine during the set-closing “Don’t Lie” and once again it was Anders who led a move in breaking through the song’s typical structure. Beck threw in a few “Mountain Jam” teases foreshadowing what was to come. The audience went absolutely wild when Greensky started the “Midnight Rider” encore. It was a fine choice to end a big night in Greensky Bluegrass history. The rise in venues won’t stop if the five-piece keeps delivering shows like they did on Saturday night at the Beacon. Watch video of “Midnight Rider” captured by wklitz1 and stream an audience recording of the whole show below:

Full Show Audio | Taped by taperjeff

Setlist (via Camp Greensky)

Set One: Demons, What You Need (1), Wings For Wheels > Time > Breathe Reprise, Kerosene, Ashes, Leap Year, Do It Alone

Set Two: All For Money, Past My Prime, More Of Me, Gumboots, Steam Powered Aeroplane (2), Murder Of Crows, I’d Probably Kill You (3), Don’t Lie (4)

Encore: Midnight Rider

  • (1) – w/ Guido Batista (vibraslap)
  • (2) – Lyric change “high above New York City”
  • (3) – Billy Strings Lyric change
  • (4) – Mountain Jam tease

Tour Dates for
Greensky Bluegrass