Rumpke Trashes In The New Year

Bogart’s, Cincinnati, OH, December 31st, 2016

Photos and Words by Tom Wickstrom

As 2016 came to a close, I couldn’t think of a better way to ring in 2017 but to have a Trashgrass party, which is exactly what the Rumpke Mountain Boys did at Bogart’s in Cincinnati. Also on the bill was the Larry Keel Experience and the Restless Leg String Band. I arrived early and waited briefly for the doors to open. There were a lot of people there early in anticipation of a great night of music.

Restless Leg String Band

As I entered Bogart’s I could hear the opener, Restless Leg String Band was already getting the party started. With Casen Baumgardner on guitar, Joe Schlaak on bass, Alex Guagenti on mandolin, Ishi Wooten on fiddle and Jonathon Brammel on banjo, this 5 piece bluegrass band out of Lexington, Ky got everyone dancing to their infectious & harmonic Newgrass style of music. Of the 10 songs in their set, my favorites were the Grateful Dead’s “Throwing Stones” and the Small Faces “Ooh La La”. Although the set was brief, Restless Leg String Band got everyone moving & grooving and set the stage for the rest of the night.

Jared Poole of Larry Keel Experience

Up next was the Larry Keel Experience. Based out of Lexington, Va., Larry Keel has been picking the guitar for more than 25 years.  With his wife Jenny always at his side on upright bass and the addition of Jared Poole on Mandolin, the Larry Keel Experience continues to push the boundaries of bluegrass music. They provided 90 minutes of electrified acoustic jamgrass infused music that reached down to your soul. My favorites in the set were “Lizard Lady”, The Band’s “Ophelia”, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell” & “Corn Liquor (w/Jason Wolf of Rumpke on banjo). There was non-stop energy from start to finish. They amaze me every time I see them.

Larry Keel Experience

Finally, it was time for the Rumpke Mountain Boys to hit the stage. This Trashgrass quartet consists of Ben Gourley on mandolin, Jason Wolf on banjo & pedal steel, JD Westmoreland on upright bass & Adam Copeland on guitar. They never use a written setlist. They take turns picking the songs to sing but don’t ultimately decide on their song until their turn comes up. Since Rumpke plays from a huge song list, you never know what might be next. They did a brief set before midnight, which Adam Copeland’s “Fordinaire” was a favorite. The band took a brief break and would return after midnight for a long final set. Returning with Rumpke for the first song after the break. With the Larry Keel Experience to perform Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island”. What a great way to kick off 2017! Up next was a cover of Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” and a new Jason Wolf song “The Twisted Sister”. Other highlights from the final set included “Low Me”, “Buford’s Blues”, “Howl At The Moon”, “Tiger Rose” & then closed the night with the Grateful Dead’s “And We Bid You Goodnight”.

Rumpke Mountain Boys

What a celebration! It was a great way to end the year and get 2017 off to a rousing start. With great music, a great venue and great friends & family, it was a winning combination to make that much more special. It was also fun celebrating back at the hotel until we got too noisy and had to leave. I can’t wait to do it again next year.