The Chapel Hill-based Mipso played their second IBMA showcase of Thursday at the Vintage church. With a handful of new songs from an upcoming EP, the group stepped into a near-perfect setting. The church’s natural acoustics lent much to Mipso’s delicate harmonies. The relatively short set kicked off with the new tune “Down in the Water,” featuring Libby Rodenbough on lead vocals. A powerful song, it allows space for each member to contribute—simple but spiritual. The evening’s lineup was sponsored by Merlefest, with artist relations manager Steve Johnson suggesting the group will likely be included in the 2015 edition of the storied festival.

Shortly after Mipso wrapped up, Blu Bop: A Tribute to Béla Fleck and the Flecktones began their long-anticipated set across Moore Square in The Pour House. The 45-minute performance began with “Frontiers,” a number from the group’s self-titled 1990 album. The nature of the Flecktones is one that lends to a blend of many musical styles and interpretations. They are a group who don’t play a song the same way twice. Slight changes or a reimagining of the same piece has long been a trademark of the trailblazing group.

Last night, Hank Smith and company honored the spirit of what the Flecktones have done, even if Fleck, who is in town, never showed. Each member brought their own unique style as the group put their own stamp on the complicated material. The precision Smith and company displayed made for quite a special and memorable performance, even among all the acts seen gathered at the festival this year.

Blu Bop, “Magic Fingers”

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