Billy Strings and Mark Lavengood at the Intersection

Billy Strings threw a barn burning hootenanny full of blazing bluegrass at the Intersection in Grand Rapids with special guest Mark Lavengood.

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Billy Strings and Mark Lavengood

Our love of the music of Mark Lavengood drew us over to the Intersection in Grand Rapids for a black Friday full of awesome music. The Intersection is one of my favorite venues for live music in Michigan and getting to see Mark there sealed the deal.

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What I love about music is that you can always discover something new that blows your doors off. Before hearing about this show, I didn’t know jack about Billy Strings. I streamed “Dust in a Baggie” from his self-titled EP and the next thing you know, I’m ordering up a vinyl copy of his latest Turmoil & Tinfoil’. His rich voice, gifted guitar playing and the stunning composition of his music turned me into an instant fan.

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Mark Lavengood’s Bluegrass Bonanza

The line was a block long when we arrived and by the time Mark Lavengood took the stage the Intersection was packed. The beauty of roots or bluegrass music is that it attracts patrons of all ages and this show was no exception. Mark is a hometown boy and received a roar of applause when he smiled and said hello.

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Mark was joined on stage by his band known as The Bluegrass Bonanza. The band features Ian Thompson (bass), Jason Wheeler (mandolin), and Brandon Worder (fiddle). Smiles and shining eyes around the stage showed the joy that this music brings. They played “Three Day Blow”, “Hungry Heart” (a Bruce Springsteen cover) and “We’ve Come Along” from Mark’s latest album of the same name. They also threw in the fan favorite “Sliding Rock” off his ‘No Part of Nothin’’ album. One of Michigan’s musical jewels, Mark Lavengood’s Bluegrass Bonanza did not disappoint. Stop into the gallery to check out more pictures.

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Billy Strings

It was like a shot from a cannon when Billy Strings and his band took the stage. The crowd hollered up a storm and packed in close to the stage to witness one of the best bluegrass bands in the world. Billy and the band were all smiles from the start. The energy of their performance stoked the crowd and reflected on the stage.

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The audience was bouncing and dancing to “Dealing Despair”, “Meet Me at the Creek”, and “On the Line” from Billy String’s ‘Turmoil & Tinfoil’ album. While the lyrical content of Billy’s music may not always be the happiest, there is a genuine sense of joy amongst the band. Billy was joined on stage by Jarrod Walker (mandolin), John Mailander (fiddle), Billy Failing (banjo), and Royal Masat (bass). The musical prowess of these players is a thing of beauty to behold. The power of their performance was spellbinding and life affirming.

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I went to this show as a new fan of Billy Strings and came home a diehard follower. The combination of Mark Lavengood with Billy Strings was pure Michigan music at its finest. This was one of the most fun and enjoyable shows we have seen. I have no doubt that these talented musicians will be making Michigan proud for years to come. Drop by the gallery for more pictures.

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