Colorado string band Trout Steak Revival, ambassadors of their home state’s progressive bluegrass scene, descended on Nashville’s City Winery recently to celebrate the unveiling of their now-released album, Spirit To the Sea. The room was configured differently on that special evening; tables normally positioned in front of the stage were moved to make room to turn the listening room into a dance hall.
The collective wasted no time when they took the stage, and elevated our heart rates with “Ours For The Taking,” a track from their 2015 album, Brighter Every Day. With consistently virtuosic performances from each player, their sound barreled forward like a freight train, yet they deftly changed directions from song to song. The band lulled us into the silky comfort of the slow and languid in one moment, and then picked up the pace with songs like “You Are Not Alone,” a melody that hovers directly above accompaniment that rolls and boils beneath the surface like hot lava. Trout Steak easily elicited whoops and hollers from the traditionally stoic Nashville crowd—and after the wine finally kicked in, several folks took advantage of the space and decided to cut a rug.
The set ended with a rowdy standing ovation and demand for an encore. Trout Steak, along with opening band Chain Station, came down from the stage, with attendees adoringly gathered around for an acoustic rendition of the Townes Van Zandt song “To Live Is To Fly.” The crowd was attentive and sang along to the choruses—and when Nashville sings along, you know it sounds good. Trout Steak expanded our ideas of what we think bluegrass is, and what it can be. They injected elements of sonic drama, and switched up lead vocalist duties to lend diversity to the sound of each song, all while pushing the boundaries of the genre with explorations of everything from gospel to indie rock with their signature grassy flair. As they took heavy metal playing stances and furiously forced their instruments into submission, Trout Steak stretched the genre’s symphonic limits with lushly layered harmonies and unforgettable, dynamic jams.