On this date in 2015, Greensky Bluegrass took the stage at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, Oregon where they would deliver their 2008 album Five Interstates in its entirety. GSBG also welcomed opener Billy Strings halfway through the LP performance.
Greensky Bluegrass — mandolinist Paul Hoffman, guitarist Dave Bruzza, banjoist Michael Bont, bassist Mike Devol and dobro player Anders Beck — had played nearly all Five Interstates songs live before. But the album play did see one live debut, the seventh track, “Ryder’s Song.” To this day the tune remains extremely rare, with just two plays total with the other coming in Columbus, Ohio in February 2019, as per Phantasy Tour.
GSBG welcomed Billy Strings — who had brought GSBG members out during his set — on “Freeborn Man,” one of a few covers on Five Interstates (written by Keith Allison and Mark Lindsay) and one that was also in Strings’ repertoire. An instrumental intro to the song with some wild banjo from Bont would launch the band and Billy into a massive jam that included a brief “Ryder’s Song” reprise from Beck into a sprawling “Freeborn Man” proper that stretched to 13-and-a-half minutes.
The second set kicked off with “Jaywalking” and saw more shenanigans from the band. “King Of The Hill” got Greensky right back into improvisation that included callbacks to “Train Junkie” from Five Interstates. “Broke Mountain Breakdown” saw the band squeezing in motifs from all the Five Interstates songs — dubbed the “Six Interstates” — and also contained a “Smoke On The Water” tease from Bruzza and a “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” interpolation from Beck. The band then had a little fun with banter after ser closer, “Can’t Stop Now,” ahead of a cover of Billy Joel’s “Big Shot” for the encore, which saw a Grateful Dead related lyric change most likely a reference to Greensky’s Dead Set in Bend, Oregon the night previous.
Watch video from the show and listen to Greensky Bluegrass’ entire November 5, 2015 concert from Portland via Mark Burgin below:
Ryder’s Song/Train Junkie
Jaywalking/King Of The Hill
Setlist (via Phantasy Tour)
Set One: Old Barns, Into the Rafters, Reverend, 200 Miles from Montana, Indian Trail, Just to Lie, Ryder’s Song1, Train Junkie, Can’t Make Time, Freeborn Man2, Nine Days, Dry County, Against the Days, What’s Left of the Night
Set Two: Jaywalking, King of the Hill, Dustbowl Overtures, How Mountain Girls Can LoveBroke Mountain Breakdown3 > I’m Still Here, In Control, Can’t Stop Now
Encore: Big Shot
Notes: First set is Five Interstates played in album order
 First time played
 with Billy Strings
 “The Six Interstates Breakdown”
[Originally Published: November 5, 2020]