Greensky Bluegrass began playing together more than 18 years ago, and they remain road warriors today, making up to 175 tour stops a year. Based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, these five musicians play bluegrass music and much more on traditional bluegrass instruments. In fact, Greensky Bluegrass fits nicely into the progressive bluegrass and jam band category begun lo those many years ago by Sam Bush and the New Grass Revival, II Generation, and others. Today, they are often compared—and share the stage with—String Cheese Incident, the Infamous Stringdusters, and similar bands.
While they’ve played hallowed country music halls such as Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, they also play to large audiences in venues less frequently connected to traditional bluegrass acts, such as Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Bonnaroo, and the New Orleans Jazz Festival. The band has been described as “a live force of nature renowned for bringing rock ‘n’ roll showmanship to high-energy bluegrass…. Their unpredictable performances remain the stuff of legend attracting diehard devotees who typically travel far and wide to experience multiple gigs.”
The internet has a wide variety of the band’s music for those who want to take a listen. Do It Alone is from their most recent album, All For Money (a nice tongue-in-cheek title for any bluegrass band.) For those looking for something closer to traditional bluegrass picking (at least until about the 3 minute mark), check out Kerosene. On a different level you may want to sample Windshield, a song of pain, loneliness, and loss that fits well in any musical tradition.
“There’s a secret in the basement, I can feel it through the floor
I don’t think this heart can take the weight of deception anymore
Cry out in helpless agony for the broken memories In things
I thought that I would never be.”
The bluegrass jam band tradition is not everyone’s cup of tea, and I tend to take it in small doses. But bands like Greensky Bluegrass attract wider audiences who often end up finding their way into the wealth of good music in the acoustic / bluegrass / Americana world. Greensky Bluegrass will be playing two shows at The Anthem (not your traditional bluegrass venue) in Washington next weekend, on Friday the 31st and Saturday, February 1st.
More to come…