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Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival Member Picks All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Sat., Nov. 22 2008

When I e-mailed the lineup of the Chicago Bluegrass & Blues Festival to a friend who’s partial to mountain music, he replied, “There’s not a lot of actual bluegrass on there.” And that’s true—though its name implies a level of genre purity, the one-day CBGB Festival is more about celebrating current reinterpretations of traditional American styles. One of the main-stage headliners, David Grisman, has long been a popular bluegrass stylist, and thanks in part to his association with the Grateful Dead and his collaborations with Jerry Garcia, he’s one of the best-known mandolinists going. But he tends to favor an approach that mellows the often frenetic energy of bluegrass into a more Deadhead-friendly vibe, sometimes even injecting it with a dose of soporific smooth jazz—thankfully the number of killer classics in his repertoire makes it easy to tolerate the occasional snoozer. On the other hand, the Avett Brothers prefer to keep their edges ragged. These North Carolina beardos kick out a mongrel mix of prewar American styles—folk, bluegrass, country—with the loose, raw energy of a punk band. At their best they project the same balance of mournfulness and rowdiness that the best country songs do—the ones that work just as well at a wake as they do at a honky-tonk. The Giving Tree Band and Tangleweed will play between main-stage acts. —Miles Raymer

Main Stage
12:30 Donnie Biggins
1:30 Dollar Store
2:45 Billy Childers
4:00 Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials
5:15 Majors Junction
6:45 Ha Ha Tonka
8:15 David Grisman Quartet
10:15 Avett Brothers

Pavilion Stage
Noon Blue Room Hero
1:00 Cobalt & the Hired Guns
2:00 Lindsey O'Brien Band & Friends
3:00 Mike Mangione
4:00 Jessica Lee
5:00 How Far to Austin
6:00 Blue Mother Tupelo
7:00 Blackdog

Price: $31

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