If you weren’t at The Stage at KDHX last Thursday you missed out on a great lineup of bluegrass music. Opening up for Montana band The Lil Smokies was local group The Mighty Pines. With two great bands on the bill the room was guaranteed to be filled. We were especially excited for this show because both bands are Sound of STL veterans. The Lil Smokies are currently touring to promote their latest album Changing Shades, which debuted earlier this month on September 15th.
The Mighty Pines have made two appearances on the site before, once at Fashogan Fest and the other during their winter residency at the Venice Café. If you aren’t yet familiar with The Mighty Pines, the band is composed of Neil Salsich (Guitar/Vocals), John Hussung (Bass/Vocals), Gerard Erker (Madolin/Vocals), and Mike Murano (Drums). Erker had the chance to play alongside the Lil Smokies earlier this summer for Summer Camp Music Festival, with his band Grass Fed Mule.
While The Mighty Pines are definitely true to their bluegrass roots, they have a rock n roll vibe that makes their performances a whole lot of fun. Thursday’s performance included a range of songs from their latest album, The Lonesome Blues, as well as some classic favorites like Satan’s Word. Every time we see The Mighty Pines we end up loving them more and more.
If you haven’t taken the time to check out The Mighty Pines we highly recommend making it out to their next gig. On Thursday September 28, 2017 you can go check out their Five Year Anniversary Show at one of our favorite venues, Joe’s Café down by Delmar. There will be no advance tickets available for the show, so make sure to show up early to get your ticket at the door. Doors open at 7, Show begins at 8.
After a set of some great local music, the boys from Montana hit the stage. The Lil Smokies are truly a rare experience, with the five piece group containing only string instruments. The Lil Smokies are Scott Parker (Bass), Jake Simpson (Fiddle), Matt Rieger (Guitar), Matt Cornette (Banjo), and Andy Dunnigan (Dobro). Frontman Dunnigan is the definition of small but mighty, almost reminiscent of a bluegrass Edward Sheeran. If you aren’t familiar with the Dobro he plays, it is a resonator guitar that is played in a lap-slide fashion. The result is a bright and beautiful sound.
It was really nice to hear a selection of songs live from their new release, Changing Shades, which was recorded in a single week at SnowGhost Music back in Montana. One of our personal favorites was The City, which reflects on life on the road and even the death of legend David Bowie. Dunnigan, who functions as head songwriter, says about the album, “We wanted to duplicate the energy of our live shows. It’s a perfect mixture of improvisation and composition. The record shows how fearless we’ve become in the last year.”
Duplicating the energy of their live shows is quite the task, with each member coming out full force for the entire set. Despite The Lil Smokies being a national act, with various honors including winning the Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition in 2015, their performance feels as though they are an intimate small town band. With big friendly smiles on their face, it’s obvious there is nothing they else they’d rather be doing. The lineup has made some changes over the years, but they have clearly reached the point of a great group dynamic.
Another highlight of the night was the freshly released track, Where You Are Today, which has a slightly different feel due to the sweet and simple songwriting by guitarist Matt Rieger. The song is perfect for a lazy summer afternoon, and completely warms the heart. We’ll be singing it in our heads for the next week straight. This memorable track just goes to show that the members of The Lil Smokies are completely multi-talented individuals with a great ear for music.
They showed off another element of their diversity and talent with a closing cover of Always Something There to Remind Me by Naked Eyes. While completely unexpected, the song was a perfect fit for the band, and a great chance to let off some steam after a 14 song set of original music. If you missed Thursday’s show you definitely should check out their latest album, which is currently streaming on Spotify. The band’s promotional tour will continue over the next two months, including a Chicago show at Lincoln Hall on November 4th.
More photos from the evening: