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When I walked into the Sierra Nevada giftshop on March 9th, I saw a poster that gave me goosebumps: a beam of light passing through a translucent jug, becoming a rainbow. The 17-year-old in me danced for joy, for this meant that I would be able to see world-class bluegrass musicians, Poor Man’s Whiskey, bring Pink Floyd’s unprecedented album to life the very next day.

I arrived at the Big Room to find the usual suspects ambling and milling about: that guy with the really weird beanie-hat thing that dangles to his shoelaces, my great aunt’s doppelganger, and that group of dreadlocked people who show up to any show as long as it’s not a blues tribute concert. But amidst the horde of Tommy Bahama shirts there were some very colorful characters adorned in green face paint, straw hats, and ruby-red slippers that added some welcomed levity to the atmosphere. These Oz-clad characters were referencing the synchronicity between the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s legendary 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon.

Once Poor Man’s Whiskey took the stage, I was a bit confused by their humdrum attire. Where was the Tin Man or the Cowardly Lion? They quickly announced that they were doing two sets, their first being all originals and the second being the main event. Their original tunes were standard, easygoing bluegrass about whiskey, women, and trains. In keeping with their moniker, they mentioned whiskey in just about every song.

After a ten-minute intermission,  a  costume contest occurred. All who dressed for the occasion received a free ticket to a Big Room show of their choosing. Then, the band re-emerged in the garb appropriate for a happening such as this.

For the next 43 minutes, Poor Man’s Whiskey put on an amazing bluegrass interpretation of one of the best progressive rock albums of all time. They did all the tracks justice, and even made a couple all their own. On the song “Great Gig In The Sky,” they substituted Clare Torry’s wordless vocal for a masterful, face-melting fiddle solo by none other than Fiddle Dave – a ringer the five-piece borrowed from band leader Josh Brough’s brother’s band, Midnite Farmers. They changed “Money” to “Whiskey,” adding their own verses for the most part, and exchanged the cash register intro with the cheers-ing of Torpedo bottles and repeated popping of Pale Ale cans, which they then handed out to the crowd. To conclude the evening, the band played an acoustic version of “Wish You Were Here,” with the crowd’s full participation. I feel lucky to have witnessed this magical, nostalgia-inducing spectacle, and urge anyone who has the chance to see this in the future to take it.

Photo credit: Jack Knight

 

Bred and buttered in Chico, David Neuschatz has been devouring music since toddlerdom. His earliest memories are dancing around his living room to Annie Lennox's Diva and Yes' 90125. In lieu of cartoons, he soaked in top 20 countdowns from VH1 and MTV on weekend mornings. His goal is to spread as much good music as he can to the masses. For this reason, he cites ethnomusicologist, folklorist, and archivist, Alan Lomax, as his idol.