There are few musical stylings that can be considered more American than bluegrass, so seeing Jeff Austin on Memorial Day was the perfect fit. The meticulously set dining room at City Winery set the perfect ambiance for this intimate show.
Austin, playing to the light crowd quickly quipped “I guess y’all weren’t invited to any Barbecue’s today?” — breaking the ice on what is sometimes an uncomfortable situation for artist and fan alike.
Accompanied by legendary Danny Barnes (banjo), Eric Thorin (bass) and Ross Martin (guitar). Austin and Barnes alternated taking the lead on tunes and both brought their own special level of intensity.
Barnes reeled listners in with his bluegrass roots, and voice. Eventually succumbing to Austin, who was taking us on a perfectly drawn ride aboard his deep and heavy mandolin play.
Despite both bluegrass legends throwing it down the highlight of this show was Thorin’s stellar upright bass play. The deep grooves he was laying down were reverberating throughout the room and rattling the wine glasses. The show came to a climax with a cover of the Chuck Berry penned “Promised Land” made popular by The Grateful Dead.
While Austin was enamored by the cabs driving by in the heart of the big city he was also distracted by the cardboard cut-out across the street, which he believed was haunting him throughout the show. Austin made it a point to recognize each band member and giving them all time to shine — playing Barnes and Martin originals to bring the set to a close. If you weren’t invited to a Barbecue, a healthy dose of Memorial Day bluegrass does not play second fiddle.