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Nightflyer soars

Star City Brewing Company, Miamisburg, Ohio, April 8, 2017

Reviewed by Devin Adams

Despite the stage being a touch small for a five-piece band, the highly entertaining and extremely talented Nightflyer delivered with that hard driving, high-energy country bluegrass sound fans have come to expect.

Joking that their contract only allowed them to play songs about trains, prison, whiskey, mama and Jesus, Nightflyer's diversity still shinned through in their presentation.

Vocally, the band was second to none. Handling most of the lead work were either guitarist Richard Propps with his gritty, yet sweet voice or the polished sound of banjo picker Ronnie Stewart. However, everyone in the band took command of the mic at some point.

Propps drew applause early and often when hitting high notes throughout, unexpected from such a physically imposing man. Propps simply awed with perfect control on "99 Years and One Dark Day." Mandolin picker, Rick Hayes, was always quick with a joke between songs and had plenty of stories to tell that kept the crowd laughing and engaged. Rounding out the band was Tim Jackson on Dobro, who is probably considered the band's honorary drummer thanks to his dance like foot tapping, and last but not least, Tony Kakaris, the official timekeeper on upright bass. Collectively, their vocal harmonies were nothing short of amazing. Hayes would light up like a Christmas tree admiring his band mate's talent each time they sang together.

Honoring their "contract," the band played two sets full of train, prison, whiskey, mama and Jesus songs, kicking off their first set with a blazing version of "Train, Train." Gospel songs, an expectation from any self respecting bluegrass band, were common throughout the night, and tunes like "Gospel News" and "You Don't Have to Go Home" filled the requirement perfectly. "Coos County Jail" "Mama Like Mine" and "White Lightning Blues" rounded out the "contract" requirements.

Following a 20-minute break, more hard driving bluegrass and top-notch harmonies were in store. At the end of the second set, the standing ovation they received demanded one more song and the band met the demands not just once, but three times over. Then finally, having exhausted themselves, the crowd parted and allowed Nightflyer to say thank you and goodnight.