It was still full daylight when Sam & his five piece band took the Festival Stage, but when they cranked up the place got visibly brighter. Sam has lost the manic fold-himself-in-half sway he had when I last saw him in New Grass Revival circa 1985, but the man is still pure energy.
His set made me think of the wallpaper in Willy Wonka's factory -- every lick tastes different. He ran from newgrass to reggae to alt-country to psychedelic to jazz fusion to straight ahead rock before encoring with pure bluegrass. The performance highlights were Sam's fiddle playing and Byron House's bass solos. That Sam made the biggest impression on fiddle surprised me, since he's synonomous with mando to me. The banjo player, Steve Vestal, was hot when he was picking regular banjo. But he spent too much time on 5 string electric banjo-synthesizer. It's an alright sounding instrument, but anything that takes the brightness and intensity out of a banjo doesn't make sense to me.
I never thought I would get to hear It's a Beautiful Day's "White Bird" played live. Sam's crisp delivery of it had me on the edge, then when he jammed off into Jean-Luc Ponty I was beside myself.
Riding that Bluegrass Train
Whisper My Name
Lively Up Yourself>
Is This Love >
Bass solo (Pink Panther theme)>
Drum and mando duet >
Is This Love
I Wanna Do Right
Rivers Gonna Run
Bringing In the Georgia Mail
Jean-Luc Ponty tune (New Country?)
When You Gonna Wake Up>
Electric mando solo (Carlos Santana themes)>
When You Gonna Wake Up
E: Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Just writing that list again has me shaking my head, amazed. I saw a couple sets of shotguns over the crowd, FOB maybe 10 yards from the stage. God bless the tapers. Praying for a torrent...
Sam Bush's take on White Bird is spot-on. Sam is always a fun act to catch.
Sam Bush is da shit! He's such a nice guy too.
And New Country IS the tune.
"White Bird" is on his newest album. Great album - buy it! You missed it as in SLC on August 9th and then again at the Targhee Bluegrass Festival on August 11th, Byron whipped out a classic version of Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love" out of "White Bird". The fans went absolutely nuts.