Greasy Beans reunites for Chautauqua shindig

Greasy Beans performs with North Carolina Dance Theatre at Chautauqua in 2004. Daily file photo.

Rabab Al-Sharif | Staff Writer

Greasy Beans came around full circle before finding its way back to Chautauqua Institution.

The group of friends who got together in college and started a bluegrass band with a silly name played its first gig in 1991, said the band’s leader Josh Haddix.

It was in the basement of a dormitory at Warren Wilson College near Asheville, N.C. Just a few weeks ago, the group found itself back at the its birthplace playing an alumni gathering.

Its next stop is Chautauqua.

The eclectic bluegrass string band will perform at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

Greasy Beans’ first visit to Chautauqua was in 2004. Artistic Director of North Carolina Dance Theatre Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux invited the band to accompany the ballet’s performance of “Shindig” — something it had already done in Charlotte, N.C. — and the Institution offered Greasy Beans its own performance.

The band will do the same this week. After its performance tonight, it will play for Bonnefoux’s “Shindig” during NCDT’s “Dance Innovations” Wednesday.

During its first visit, Haddix said, the band was playing full-time. After its members finished college, Greasy Beans piled into a van and traveled across the country playing festivals and clubs.

When the band formed in the early ’90s, nobody would have a bluegrass band in a club, Haddix said.

“They thought, ‘Oh you’re crazy, that will never work,’” he said. “We were like, ‘Just give us a chance.’”

But Greasy Beans would go into clubs to play, and it did work.

The band toured for 10 years, Haddix said, playing all over the United States and even traveling to Europe.

The band no longer plays full time, and the members change, but Haddix gets a group together to play whenever called.

Tonight, Greasy Beans will play a mixture of old-time string band standards, gospel songs and original music, Haddix said.

The audience can also expect to see some banjo and fiddle, and Charlie and Bill Monroe-style mandolin and vocal duets.

After its performance tonight, the band hopes to enjoy Chautauqua Lake.

“We have a day off in between, and we were thinking about going fishing,” he said.

Haddix said while the band is together, it will enjoy dinner and tell some stories.

“We have a good time together,” he said. “Everybody gets along really well.”

But it isn’t all fun and games. Haddix said he wants to put on a good show.

“My main priority is to rehearse,” he said. “I gotta make sure everybody’s happy.”