On St. Patrick’s Day in 2014, Floodwood showed up at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, GA ready to paint the town green. The progressive string band – currently on a swing that includes eleven dates in ten days – billed the show as Floodwood Quartet while drummer Vinnie Amico sits out before rejoining the band heading into Suwannee Springfest.
Atlanta music legends Donna Hopkins and Rev. Jeff Mosier (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Bluegrass Underground, The Mosier Brothers Band) opened the show, trading songs that bounced from Hopkins’ soulful, singer/songwriter numbers to Mosier’s mastery of the five-string and powerful vocals. A highlight included Mosier performing “Black Muddy River.” His introduction stated that after Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia suffered a diabetic coma, he had to retrain himself to play and this was the first song he learned. Ultimately, it is the last song Garcia would sing. LiveJams was on hand to capture video of a few songs performed by Hopkins and Mosier.
Floodwood performed one long set highlighting tracks from 2013’s This Is Life, unreleased tunes, and choice covers. Banjo and fiddle man Nick Piccininni took first vocal responsibility, performing “It’s A Long Way to Virginia.” All three melodic pickers took vocal lead for several songs throughout the evening, while stand-up bass man Zachary Fleitz provided harmony on most tunes. An unreleased tune, the instrumental “Chillicothe Clouds” showcases that Piccininni and mandolinist Jason Barady can both really pick it and appear to be having a great time on stage, always smiling and dancing.
Al Schnier lead vocals on “Raise A Glass,” his Irish-drinking song included on moe.’s Sticks And Stones. Schnier’s Martin box was thunderous throughout the performance and highlighted several flatpicking moments. He also took principal vocal responsibility on “Revolving Door,” “Anyone But Me,” and a wonderful version of Neil Young’s “Get Back To The Country.”
Early in the set the band invited Mosier to roll the banjo while Piccininni sang and fiddler to the bluegrass standard “Nine Pound Hammer.” The crowd persuaded Mosier to stick around and influenced selection of the next song, the Garcia/John Dawson/Robert Hunter penned “Friend Of The Devil.” The Grateful Dead guitarist’s spirit echoed throughout the night as songs like “I Know You Rider,” “The Hobo Song,” and others etched in Deadhead’s memories via Garcia’s performances with David Grisman and Old And In The Way were sprinkled throughout the setlist.
A rowdy stage call brought the band back out for an encore. A familiar beat and Barady’s words indicated the band was attempting an impromptu “Crazy Train.” The mandolin picker tried to abandon the tune early but Schnier made sure he finished what he started. Like the rest of the performance, Floodwood nailed it.
Floodwood has a few more dates before taking some time off as moe. travels to Europe for a tour. Support JamGrass.net and the band by purchasing their music on Amazon or iTunes after linking from the site.