Two-day fest marries bluegrass and Boulevard beer


Bluegrass and beer, a once unthinkable pairing, will attract hundreds of revelers to Bluegrass in the Bottoms this weekend.

The home-style picking of more than a dozen bands and the refreshing offerings of event sponsor Boulevard Brewing Company will fuel the two-day festival.

Bluegrass was a kissing cousin of Southern gospel when it was pioneered by Bill Monroe in the 1940s. Conspicuous consumption of alcohol at bluegrass performances was inconceivable during the genre’s formative years. The unwritten rules associated with the form disallowed public boozing.

Times have changed.

Socially conservative teetotalers will be hard to find at Bluegrass in the Bottoms. Most of the audience will consist of fashionable urbanites and the tie-dye and ponytail set. Fans of progressive bluegrass are drawn to the artisanal nature of the acoustic-based music.

Greensky Bluegrass, a jovial quintet from Kalamazoo, is Friday’s headliner. Boulevard’s enlivening beverages will provide an ideal complement to the band’s good-time jams.

The Infamous Stringdusters, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Joshua Davis, the Naughty Pines and Betse & Clarke also perform on Friday.

Railroad Earth tops Saturday’s bill. The New Jersey band’s vocalists tend to sound uncannily like Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, the late bluegrass enthusiast who is a spiritual guru to most of the remainder of Saturday’s lineup: the Yonder Mountain String Band, Fruition, the Shook Twins, the Hardship Letters and Whiskey for the Lady.

5:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 20. Knuckleheads. 816-483-1456. Single-day tickets are $41 in advance. Two-day passes are $71 in advance.

Concert previews by Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink