Live On The Green

Live On The Green

  • Article by: Matt Dodson
  • Posted: 09/27/2011

Beach balls and glow sticks were flying as Nashville favorites Moon Taxi kicked off week three of the Live on the Green concert series. A noticeably hippier crowd gathered early for Moon Taxi’s danceable, indie-infused jam-band groove.

It was easily the biggest crowd for an opener yet, and the band that has sold out Exit/In five straight times fed off the energy. Hundreds packed the front of the audience, dancing and twirling psychedelic, glowing hula-hoops.

The folks at Lightning 100 hit this one out of the park, as each of the acts built on the sets of the others and fit together perfectly. The first two weeks, the middle act seemed to be filler, but this time, a good portion of the crowd was there specifically to see each of the openers.

The second band was three time running “Knoxville’s Best Band,” The Dirty Guv’nahs. The Guv’nahs’ Black Crowes-y rock ‘n’ roll and blues was a little less dance-worthy than Moon Taxi’s chill, reggae and indie-rock jams, but where they lacked in dance beats, the rockers made up for in energy. The band clearly has a solid following outside of Knoxville because fans were singing along to nearly every one of their songs.

As the Guv’nah’s set came to a close, the crowd on the courthouse lawn was already as big as any so far this year, despite the fact that the chilly Thursday night was one of the biggest concert nights Nashville has ever seen. On the south side of town, Foster the People played to thousands at SoundLand’s block party, and elsewhere, Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, Ghostland Observatory, Kyle Andrews, Spells, Ben Sollee and many others headlines shows across town.

The biggest crowd of the night, however, may very well have been the one that had their minds blown by Robert Randolph and the Family Band’s soulful blues insanity. From the first notes, it was clear why Rolling Stone lists Randolph among its 100 best guitarists of all time. As the show progressed, the rest of the band’s multi-instrumental talents were clear.

Each of their songs turned into a ten-minute, free form blues jam in which each musician took a turn in the spotlight, from bass to drums to background vocals, but the audience loved every second. Randolph flawlessly incorporated pop songs like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” country-style pedal steel licks, Motown grooves and flat-out blues shredding on pedal steel, lap steel and electric guitar.

Before even the first song ended, it was clear that the Family Band had engaged the audience more than any act has so far. During the last song of their regular set, the members of the Family Band performed their signature move: nearly all of the members traded instruments one at a time and took a solo on their new instrument. Even background singer Lenesha Randolph took a turn on drums, playing a killer solo that was one of the highlights of the evening.

I’ve gone to several shows each year at Live on the Green, and have noticed a formula for how engaged an audience is: the more songs the audience recognizes, the more involved they get. This show was the rare exception.

I have never seen a crowd at a free show buy into what the band has to offer as they did for Robert Randolph and the Family Band tonight. Thanks to the band for such an impressive feat and to Lightning 100 for booking such a killer line-up.

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