Columbus gets Dusted

Review by Matt Wickstrom
Photos by Tom Wickstrom

A trio of high-energy bluegrass bands took center stage Friday night in Columbus at Park Street Saloon, as Colorado’s own The Infamous Stringdusters continued their fall tour with special guests the Larry Keel Experience and the Rumpke Mountain Boys for a night of strumming, picking, and jamming.

Kicking off the music was the Larry Keel Experience, comprised of Larry Keel on guitar, his wife Jenny on upright bass, and Will Lee on banjo. Recently Keel added the element of synthesizers to his already legendary flatpicking, which gives a unique psychedelic feel to the group’s bluegrass and americana sound. The trio’s set began with “Mountain Song”, a tune which pays homage to Larry Keel’s roots, which lay firmly in the mountains of Lexington, Virginia.

Making an appearance mid-set was “The Internet”, a song that pokes fun at people’s obsessions with the internet and social media. The Larry Keel Experience later covered The Grateful Dead’s “Brown Eyed Women”, with Keel introducing the song by mentioning how much The Dead have not only inspired them, but countless other bands and musicians.

Keel’s exceptional flatpicking and improvisation reached a peak during “Ripchord”, the final song of the Larry Keel Experience’s set. After a standing ovation from a large crowd that continued to grow by the minute, Keel and company returned to the stage and ushered fiddler Jeremy Garrett, dobroist Andy Hall and banjoist Chris Pandolfi of The Infamous Stringdusters to the stage for an encore that included collaborations on “Free Born Man” and “Bugle Call Rag”.

The Infamous Stringdusters moved from the on deck circle to the batter’s box, bringing to the plate two full sets of rocking bluegrass that included plethora of covers, including classics from J.J. Cale, The Police, and The Grateful Dead, among others. Kicking off the set was a tease of “Black Rock”, which would end up finding it’s way back into the night’s rotation rounding out the quintet’s first set. The Dusters later paid tribute to Eric Clapton, a part-time resident of Columbus, with a cover J.J. Cale’s tune made famous by Clapton “After Midnight”. Afterwards was another cover; this one of Flatt & Scruggs “I’m Head Over Heals in Love”. Originals “17 Cents” and “High Country Funk” followed, leaving the packed crowd at the Saloon radiating with a feeling of euphoria that grew contagious as fans in attendance forgot about the worries of their everyday lives and got lost in the music.

Just as the Larry Keel Experience did prior, The Infamous Stringdusters kicked off their second set with a cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Big River”, which appears on last month’s release “Undercover”. Mid-set the band broke into one of their newer cuts, titled “Summercamp” off 2014’s “Let it Go”, before segueing into a cover of The Police’s 1979 hit “Walking on the Moon”. The two songs were the perfect match for a mashup, with both pertaining to young love.

Succeeding the combo was a run of Elvis Presley’s “Devil in Disguise”, “Like I Do” and “Echoes of Goodbye” that left the crowd in awe. “Getting Down the Road” closed out The Dusters set, before the band welcomed Larry Keel back onto the stage for their encore, much like he did earlier in the night for them. The six treated fans to an encore of “Pioneers” and Sugarfoot”, intertwining the signature, albeit somewhat new, synthesizer-fueled picking of Keel with the high-energy bluegrass of The Dusters. As The Infamous Stringdusters winded down their headlining sets, Cincinnati’s own Rumpke Mountain Boys readied to close out the night, per usual, with some good ole trashgrass.

Capping off the night were the Rumpke Mountain Boys, who debuted a new song in Columbus. The tune, titled “Fordinaire”, was introduced by guitarist Adam Copeland as being about “those times when you’ve only got $40 in your wallet, and you’re happy about it”. Rumpke’s late night set also included fan favorites “Shelteriffic”, “Tiger Rose” and “Whirly Pig”.

Setlist info and photos can be found below.

The Infamous Stringdusters
Set 1:
Black Rock tease >>
Travelin’ Teardrop Blues >>
After Midnight
Head Over Heels in Love
17 Cents
High Country Funk
Light and Love
When Rivers Run Cold
Heady Festy >>
Get it While You Can >>
Black Rock

Set 2:
Big River
Piece of Mind
Starry Night
Summercamp >>
Walking on the Moon
Devil in Disguise
Like I Do
Echoes of Goodbye
He’s Gone
Getting Down the Road

Pioneers (w/Larry Keel)
Sugarfoot Rag (w/Larry Keel)

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