Review and photos by Ellen Eldridge
Bluegrass and banjos can cause some to cringe, but Balsam Range backing John Driskell Hopkins (Zac Brown Band) made fans realize these smoky mountain boys blow minds. My pleasurable introduction took place last night in the incredibly intimate (104 capacity) barbeque restaurant, Swallow at the Hollow—an establishment seemingly designed to host quaint country legends. Their touring together is no new thing—Hopkins and Balsam Range have played together over the last several years– and the Zac Brown Band members can be considered local legends throughout Georgia, but something about the smoking smell in the air with the warm yellow lighting made the small show feel like larger than life.
Regular themes of life, love and questioning one’s deserving of the love received abound like the fast playing fiddle music; the abundant energy surged through the audience with a light-hearted sense of relief. This truly was the type of event to let loose and enjoy local music.
Though he said he wouldn’t “play another fucking note,” abrasively joking while paying tribute to Balsam Range’s impressive songs, Hopkins returned to the mic to continue the set. Explosive as the band was, when Hopkins took control of the upright bass he seemed to dance with it as if in a world all his own. He joked with the crowd about his abilities on bass as he handed off his guitar.
For fans of the Zac Brown Band who would enjoy more bluegrass feeling, catching John Driskell Hopkins with Balsam Range is a perfect evening. If you were able to get a ticket, enjoy some fine food and a comfortable show tonight in Roswell.