The rock world lost a celebrated songsmith on Wednesday with the passing of The Band guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson. Just hours after Robertson’s death was announced, Greensky Bluegrass and Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway concluded their show in Montana with a medley of The Band classics.
All hands were on deck for this three-song tribute, with Greensky Bluegrass dobro player Anders Beck at one point confirming there were 52 strings onstage. “We figured we’d get as many strings as possible up here for you and for Robbie Robertson,” he said.
The extended ensemble ran through some of The Band’s most celebrated songs in a catalog full of them, beginning with “Up On Cripple Creek”. Just like with The Band, this superjam sported no shortage of talented vocalists, as shown in Tuttle and GSBG mandolinist Paul Hoffman‘s verse-for-verse tradeoff in “Cripple Creek” (a Greensky debut).
Guitarist Dave Bruzza handled the grizzly Richard Manuel vocals on “The Shape I’m In”, not seen on a Greensky setlist since January 19th, 2023, per Phantasy Tour. The ten-piece put those 52 strings to good use on this around-the-horn jam, particularly when Molly and Dave went toe-to-toe on guitars.
Finally, the only way to close out a tribute of this emotional weight was with “The Weight”. Greensky’s first performance in over four years (LTP 1/31/19), this last track displayed the depth of the talent pool onstage. The vocal baton began with Bruzza before moving to Hoffman, Tuttle, Beck, and finally Molly’s banjo player Kyle Tuttle (no relation) before they all sang in unison for one final “put the load right on me.”
Together with Manuel, Rick Danko, Levon Helm, and Garth Hudson, Robertson helped craft a tome of songs that would go on to form the bedrock of the genre now known as Americana. From humble beginnings playing the Canadian circuit with frontman Ronnie Hawkins, Robertson and company eventually studied at the foot of the master, Bob Dylan, and even collaborated with him on a number of now-classic songs. In stark contrast to the enveloping psychedelic sounds of the late 1960s, The Band emerged with a rustic, simplistic approach to songwriting that made the music feel simultaneously antique, current, and timeless. Garth Hudson now stands as the sole surviving member of The Band.
Watch Greensky Bluegrass and Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway cover a trio of The Band classics in tribute to Robbie Robertson.
Greensky Bluegrass, Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway – “Up On Cripple Creek”, “The Shape I’m In”, “The Weight” (The Band) – 8/9/23