Persistent heat and unforgivable humidity couldn’t put a damper on the 15th annual ROMP Fest held at Yellow Creek Park outside of Owensboro, Ky. from June 27-30. Continuously gathering the best in bluegrass, old-time and roots music, the festival’s 2018 iteration featured headline and standout performances from Alison Krauss, Leftover Salmon, Billy Strings, Love Canon and others.
Missing earlier sets on Thursday from the likes of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, bluegrass state native Ricky Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder and others, I arrived just prior to Colorado music and ROMP veterans Leftover Salmon. The group opened their set with frontman Vince Herman singing about the state’s rolling hills and ever-flowing moonshine on “Kentucky Skies” before jumping into more from 2012’s such as “Liza” and the Drew Emmit led “Gulf of Mexico.” Later bassist Greg Garrison took the lead on “Analog,” a tune bursting at the seams with twang and a silky smooth groove. The group has developed an undeniable chemistry in their 25+ year lifespan as evidenced by taking over on lead vocals, but each member also has the ability to take command at ease on instrumentals, from Erik Deutsch’s finger dancing on keys to Alwyn Robinson’s “Drums and Space” -esque solos to Andy Thorn’s clawhammer picking, helping to elevate the group to the peak of a budding jamgrass music scene.