As their name might suggest, Greensky Bluegrass utilizes traditional bluegrass instruments - dobro, banjo, guitar, upright bass and mandolin. However, the music that they make is anything but reversionary and the new album, Handguns is a brave expression of what separates their original music from the rest of the bluegrass genre.
Handguns was recorded in between tours this winter as the band holed up in a studio in their home state of Michigan, committing the songs straight-to-tape on the exact recording console that originally birthed Lynyrd Skynyrd's infamous track "Free Bird" decades earlier. Matching the warmth of the analog sound, vintage microphones were utilized alongside state-of-the-art studio equipment to create a truly blended and artful sonic experience.
Greensky has continued to gain national momentum since they won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival's coveted Band Competition in 2006 and have been invited to play at last summer's Northwest String Summit, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival and NPR's Mountain Stage, while also playing at Bonnaroo, Bumbershoot and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. As these diverse festivals would suggest, they're a bluegrass band but they're not. Bluegrass doesn't have distortion, or horns for that matter. Greensky does.
Of course, none of this happened overnight or without sacrifice. Greensky is just as much a grit of the asphalt band as they are a salt of the earth band, having played over 160 shows nationwide, every year, for the last six years. It was by winning over folks on the band's never-ending tour that got them where they are today - not by a label, syndicated radio play or being on the shelves at big box stores.
As a bonus for all, Greensky Bluegrass is giving away half of Handguns for free. This five-song Handguns EP is available on the Greensky Bluegrass website for anyone who wants to listen.
The motive? To be heard. For musicians, the model has changed with satellite radio where the F word flies free and name-your-own-price record releases. One thing remains true, however: when the music is great, people will listen.
Greensky Bluegrass is Anders Beck (dobro), Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (upright bass) and Paul Hoffman (mandolin).
What the press says:
"Representing the genre for a whole new generation." - Rolling
"Taking chances - and pushing the boundaries of a proud tradition - are what mark Greensky Bluegrass' sound, which tips its cap to backwoods-jazz virtuosity while holding on to a rock 'n' roll edge." - San Francisco Chronicle
"...under the old-timey harmonies, mandolin, banjo and upright bass is a vibe that's just as comfortable with mellow workouts as it is with speedily picked hoedown numbers." - The Onion, Denver
"Skillfully walks the line between traditional and progressive... Greensky Bluegrass shows its reverence for those artisans who've come before, even while the band blazes ahead." - Relix Magazine
"...snappy mandolin and banjo hooks, playful acoustic ramblings and plenty of down home American spirit... whether you're a String Cheese, Railroad Earth or Del McCoury fan; they've got you covered." - Sacramento Press
"Much like newgrass heroes Yonder Mountain String Band and Railroad Earth before them, Kalamazoo, Michigan's Greensky Bluegrass trade in carefree brand of genre- jumping roots music. Though their tunes bear notable traces of rock, jazz and Americana, their affinity and respect for traditional bluegrass shines through with every nimbly picked tone." - Seven Days, Burlington
"In the big, crowded world of jam bands, carving out a distinct identity and following isn't an easy task. But Kalamazoo's Greensky Bluegrass is busy achieving just that, enjoying road success and growing national acclaim for its sublime, inventive approach to rootsy Americana." - Detroit Free Press
"The five-man outfit plays originals and covers (traditional and otherwise) with rootsy precision and edgy boldness." - Dallas Morning News
"Along with acts like Yonder Mountain String Band and Old Crow Medicine Show, the five-man, all-acoustic Greensky Bluegrass keeps one foot in traditional music and steps the other forward. The sound isn't unfamiliar - banjo, mandolin and stand-up bass picking still race through the tunes, but so do heavy grooves, swooning strings and extended jams." - Metromix Indianapolis
"...the band brings plenty of chops to the table, but the finger-plucking rarely steals the spotlight. This Michigan quintet is more about warm voices telling stories in tightly constructed tunes, and they do it mighty well." - Columbus Alive
"Greensky Bluegrass takes bluegrass to a new high by weaving psychedelic rock into a roots-oriented go-for-broke approach... With some of the new-school attitude of Yonder Mountain String Band and the down-home sound of the hills (via Michigan), the group is carving out its own space in the jamgrass barnyard." - Westword
"...channeling all the right icons: Norman Blake, the Seldom Scene and even mid-'70s New Grass Revival (the choice stuff, before Béla). Of course, this is bluegrass. So manic chops mean a lot to Greensky Bluegrass. Yet they are also masterful storytellers." - Seattle Weekly