The Lil’ Smokies (Neurolux) – 3/14/18

This bluegrass outfit from Missoula has more than just a great name. They can flat-out play, and were a hoot to watch.

Andy Dunnigan sings lead vocals, writes the bulk of the songs, and plays electric slide guitar in a manner I had not seen before. Strap firmly wrapped around his neck and shoulder, he holds the axe horizontal to the floor, sitting like a table on his stomach.  His playing is impressive, as were most of the songs.  His band was up to the task as well, and violin player Jake Simpson stole the show on several songs with his incredibly fast and beautiful playing.  He also sang lead on a few of the songs he had written.  These two are very impressive, and provide the jaw-dropping talent of the group, but a quick shout out to acoustic guitar strummer Matt Rieger who was a sight to behold, with his long hair and beard flowing in the breeze provided by a fan at his feet.  He looked like a hippie on a motorcycle, riding joyously through the desert.

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These guys cite The Infamous Stringdusters as their heroes and inspiration, which is a common thing amongst bluegrass bands aspiring to their level of musical ability and notoriety. Having opened for them a few years back, The Lil’ Smokies decided in 2016 to go at music full-time and have been touring relentlessly since.

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This show was another spontaneous excursion, because while standing in the airport having just gotten back home from Florida I got a text from a buddy asking if I was attending the show. I replied that I didn’t know who they were but that if she liked them, I would check them out.  Two songs on Spotify later, I decided they were definitely worth seeing.  I am glad I made that decision, and although I had other things to do first and showed up a few songs into their set, I saw enough to get my money’s worth.  Solid musicianship throughout the night, and a highlight included a beautifully countrified rendition of Led Zep’s “Goin to California” as an intro into their last song of the evening.  Well played, fellas!