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Cris Jacobs sit-in highlights Greensky Bluegrass appearance at Soundstage

April 23, 2013

Having played the first two shows of their current tour with opening sets and sit-ins by Baltimore native Cris Jacobs, the guys in hard touring Michigan new-grass outfit Greensky Bluegrass were excited to bring the collaboration to Baltimore Soundstage Friday.

“Beyond being a great musician, [Cris] is really fun to hang out with, so it’s awesome to have him up to play with us in his hometown,” said Anders Beck, Greensky’s dobro player. “That hometown hero status–it’s cool,” he added with a sly grin.

After Jacobs’ solo opening set–a bare bones affair featuring Patrick McAvinue on fiddle–Greensky Bluegrass got off to an energetic start. Early on, the band melded their vocals tastefully, performing with a laidback flourish on the irresistibly catchy “Handguns”.

When it came time to invite Jacobs to the stage, the crowd was unsurprisingly enthusiastic in their support of the former The Bridge front man. “I guess this makes us a sextet,” one member mused as Jacobs plugged in and tested his guitar levels. “Well, this side of the stage certainly did just get a lot sexier,” Beck deadpanned, eliciting a friendly smile from Jacobs.

Working his trademark licks into Greensky’s polished sounds, Jacobs appeared to be enjoying his mini-tour with the band as much as they have.

“They have a very unpretentious and wholesome quality to them that is very likable,” Jacobs later said of the band. “Just a great group all around that is taking the true elements of bluegrass and American roots music and really expanding on it and helping it evolve,” he said.

The evening’s highest moment came when the collaboration culminated in a cover of The Band’s “The Shape I’m In”—a perfect song for a show taking place on the one-year anniversary of the death of Levon Helm.