The Mighty Pines took us to church with their soulful performance at Venice Café on an otherwise calm Wednesday night in Soulard. The self-proclaimed “STL Jam Grass” band played a two hour set full of beautiful harmonies and traditional folk acoustics, kicking off their winter residency at the café. Their fervent sounds evoke a sense of pride to be from the heart of the Midwest, they filled the eclectic and intimate venue with a hazy mix of bluegrass, folk, and rock tradition.
The set was completely acoustic, using a condenser microphone the band was able to project their lovely sounds throughout the expertly curated space of the venue without needing amps. While the band usually consists of four core members, the first night of their residence involved three guest features in lieu of percussionist Mike Murano who was attending the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. Wednesday’s performance included band
members Neil Salisch (guitar and vocals), John Hussing (bass and vocals), Gerard Erker (mandolin, banjo, and vocals). Despite their missing percussionist the band was able to fully carry the show with a knee bouncing set driven by pure talent and passion. Filling in for the first round was Gary Hunt, whose incredible skill with the fiddle and mandolin can only be compared to some of the greats like members of the String Cheese Incident.
Near the end of their set they were joined by a second guest appearance. Drew Lance graced the audience with his washboard and sticker covered acoustic guitar. If the Americana vibe wasn’t clear enough from the beginning, the washboard added a distinct sound that made it impossible not to stomp along to the beat and dream of lazy summer days drifting down the Missouri River. We would love to see both guest musicians team up with the band again at a future winter residency show.
The group in attendance was a humble yet mighty one. Whoops and hollers could be heard from the audience as the band strummed along, scattering their own personal heartland touches to the songs. Salisch has a powerful voice that adds a touch of rock and roll to their sound. Occasional harmonies from the other members blends together for an experience that was made for smooth listening. By default we give this show a five on the flannel factor, not only were three out of four band members wearing flannel, but their strongly rooted blue grass style is enough make even the toughest city slicker want to throw on a flannel and drum along on a tub.
If you’ve never been to Venice Cafe we highly recommend you witness the purely whimsical and one-of-a-kind establishment– it’s personally one of our favorite places to recommend for visitors. Much like The City Museum, mirror and glass art cover the walls along with a hodgepodge of unique curated items such as stickers; sculptures, paintings, disco balls, string lights, Barbie doll heads, and anything you might accidentally find under a couch. Although it may look like someone has just thrown chaos to the wall, the components are perfectly arranged for maximum artistic aesthetic pleasure. This show is rated a three on the substance factor, has anyone ever turned the nostalgic game of iSpy into a drinking game to the tune of real American music? Note that Venice Cafe is a cash only bar, so come prepared, or use the ATM located in the basement.
Make sure to check out The Mighty Pines as their winter residency continues. There are
four dates left to catch them including January 25th as well as February 1st, 8th, and 15th. At future events The Mighty Pines will be back in full force with their full band. There is also a benefit show, Fashogan Fest, at 2720 on February 4th to help their friend Nick Hogan fund his cancer treatment. Sound of STL will be covering the benefit show but look out for us at the Venice Cafe dates as well!
Who are The Mighty Pines?
Hometown: Saint Louis, MO
Debut: Fall 2012
Similar Artists: The String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, Tallest Man on Earth, Shovels & Rope
Facebook: The Mighty Pines
Check out their most recent EP by clicking below:
More photos from the event: