There are plenty of things Cincinnati is known for: Skyline chili, the Reds and Bengals, Jerry Springer as a mayor. But the thing that put the Queen City on the map (and I mean that literally) is the Ohio River.
It provided the perfect setting to witness a who’s who of bluegrass, folk and Americana. Friday’s Bunbury set included adrenaline pumping rock and pop, finalizing with an impressive set from the Black Keys. Saturday was the perfect day for a blanket on the lawn, a leisurely stroll through the park, and easing into a long days’ worth of outstanding music.
The action got underway with The One Hundred, Motherfolk, and The Devil Makes Three playing consecutive sets on two of the stages. The One Hundred and The Devil Makes Three were more of a Bluegrass feel to them. DM3 were a three piece outfit with banjo, upright bass, and guitar. They created beautiful harmonies and kept the crowd stomping their feet. Motherfolk played the Pavillion Stage and as the band was told before they took the stage, their sound is “folk, but with balls.” The four-piece band from Cincinnati is poised for stardom, combining bright, cheery tunes with great vocals and energy.
After a brief stopover to enjoy the scenic river view and the sounds of The Secret Sister, the next act to play was Lindsey Stirling. If you haven’t become familiar with the many talents of Ms. Stirling, I suggest you do so immediately! The former America’s Got Talent star brings a rare formula to her show, but brings plenty of showmanship and energy. Stirling is a classically trained violinist and combines her violin with EDM elements. The piercing shrieks from her weapon of choice, along with the thumping bass lines create a euphoric, addictive sound that brings the rhythm out of even the least coordinated listener. Oh, and she has a duel with the band’s keytar player. It is a fascinating, trippy show to witness, and many in the throng of people agreed.
In keeping with the day’s theme of Americana, Bluegrass and folk, Old Crow Medicine Show brought its infectious sound to Cincinnati. The six members played for about an hour to the delight of fans all over the riverbank. The good ole hoedown breezed by with tunes such as “Alabama High Test,” “Caroline,” and “Mississippi Saturday Night.” Lead singer Kevin Hayes told the crowd how much they loved coming to Cincinnati, and really fed off the energy from the crowd. They played the Connie Smith-penned ode to Cincinnati, aptly titled “Cincinnati, Ohio.” The crowd sang along, but much to their delight, the singalong continued with OCMS’s biggest hit, “Wagon Wheel.” The eclectic crowd stomped and sang and quickly headed over to the opposite stage to find a prime seat for the headliners.
The Avett Brothers took the stage just around dusk, and lit up the breezy night air with a vibrant, action packed set. It was refreshing to see the band let their music do the talking, transitioning from one tune to the other. Most of the near-20,000 in attendance stayed on their feet and engaged with the band, singing along to the band’s hit-filled catalogue. “Satan Pulls the Strings” and “Down with the Shine” opened the show, and “I and Love and You” closed it after many cheers from the crowd.
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