Tag Archives: Greensky Bluegrass

Beale Street Music Festival announces 2017 lineup

This morning Memphis in May announced the line-up to the 2017 Beale Street Music Festival.

Held on the banks of the Mississippi River, headliners this year include a wide range of names, including Widespread Panic, Kings of Leon, Soundgarden, Snoop Dogg, Sturgill Simpson, Death Cab for Cutie, and MGMT. Continue reading Beale Street Music Festival announces 2017 lineup

4th Annual Suwanne Hulaween – Stringier Things

4th Annual Suwannee Hulaween – Stringier Things
October 28th – 30th, 2016
Photographer/Writer: Brad Kuntz

It’s almost time for the 4th Suwannee Hulaween. The past three years Suwannee Hulaween has hosted some of the best music, scenery and good times many have experienced at a music festival. This year will no doubt be a grand time, with seven sets of The String Cheese Incident spread out over the three-day main event and a pre-party with EOTO on Thursday. Last year’s Hulaween attendance broke records at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, but this year, tickets are limited to only 20,000.

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This will be the first time My Morning Jacket will play at the Music Park. After seeing and hearing their stellar set at Lockn Fest in August, (MMJ stole that festival) everyone is looking forward to their performance. Other notable bands include Umphrey’s McGee, STS9, Big Gigantic (feat. The Motet), The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Gramatik, Lettuce, Greensky Bluegrass, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Snarky Puppy, The Revivalists, and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

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The art installations, live paintings and decorations that are scattered throughout the park seem to get better each year, the creativity is unsurpassed. Spirit Lake is a treat in itself with the spectacular light show that lasts all night long, casting patterns of color onto the tall cypress trees and the long tangles of dangling Spanish moss and the adult playground in a Spirit lake area with its own stage, fire dancers, fire statues, swing sets, moving lights, mazes, and mouths to sit in and pose with, landscape art and much more.

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The costume theme is “Stringier Things”, which will celebrate vintage 1980s supernatural horror / pop culture, inspired by the Netflix TV Show “Stranger Things”. We can’t wait to see what kind of creatively kooky costumes are on display!

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Deep Roots Mountain Revival Festival on Marvin’s Mountaintop (Sept 15-18)

Deep Roots Mountain Revival Festival
Marvin’s Mountaintop in Masontown, WV
September 15 – 18, 2016

Deep Roots Mountain Revival Festival is proud to announce the daily performance schedule for its inaugural music and arts festival on September 15-18, 2016. Top-tier bluegrass, jam band, rock and country acts will convene on the legendary Marvin’s Mountaintop in Masontown, WV, the original site for the All Good Festival. Performing on Thursday, September 15th, is jam band pioneer Melvin Seals and the JGB and more. On Friday, September 16th the dynamic and genre-defying Greensky Bluegrass performs, along with outlaw country music and southern rocker Shooter Jennings with Waymore’s Outlaws; Love and Theft; Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives; Cabinet and more. On Saturday, September 17th, slam grass virtuosos Leftover Salmon are joined by grassroots phenomenon Blackberry Smoke; The David Grisman Sextet; Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder; Rising Appalachia and more. Sunday, September 18th, features country music favorites Jamey Johnson; Corey Smith; The Marcus King Band and more. A full daily schedule can be found on the Deep Roots Mountain Revival website at www.mountainrevival.com.

Deep Roots offers a full schedule of community-building, family-friendly activities and events. Kids and their guardians are encouraged to visit the Family Activity Zone featuring scheduled events including yoga, hula hooping, instrument making, a t-shirt tie dye station, art and nature encounters. On Saturday, September 17th, shuttles will be available from the festival grounds to the Hovatter’s Zoo. Adults are also encouraged to play like kids with daily yoga sessions, paintball, a cornhole tournament, nature hikes and mountain bike tours. A schedule of activities can be found by visiting www.mountainrevival.com/kids-activities/.

The festival will donate $3 from all purchases of 3-day passes to the United Way of Southern West Virginia to support flood relief efforts. The recent flooding left many West Virginia communities in dire need of help. Deep Roots Mountain Revival in partnership with the United Way of Southern WV is committed to long term flood recovery. General Admission Tier One tickets are currently available for $150 for 3-day passes and $180 for Thursday early arrival tickets. On August 1st, GA tickets increase to Tier 2 prices, $165 and $195 respectively. VIP tickets are available for $570 per person. All VIP ticket packages include early entry; catered meals; access to premiere viewing areas at all stages with beer and wine; access to private bathrooms and showers; VIP camping sites; VIP lounge access; discounts on festival grounds beer; and a stainless steel souvenir mug. Tickets can be purchased at www.mountainrevival.com/tickets.

For more information on the Deep Roots Mountain Revival Festival, visitwww.mountainrevival.com.

WHAT: DEEP ROOTS MOUNTAIN REVIVAL FESTIVAL
WHEN: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2016
WHERE: MARVIN’S MOUNTAINTOP IN MASONTOWN, WV
TICKETS: Tier 1 General Admission 3-Day $150 (on sale now) // GA + Thursday Early Arrival $180 (on sale now) // VIP $570 (on sale now) // Tier 2 General Admission 3-Day $150 (on sale starting August 1) // GA + Thursday Early Arrival $180 (on sale starting August 1)
PURCHASE TICKETS: www.mountainrevival.com/tickets
FESTIVAL WEBSITE: http://www.mountainrevival.com

ABOUT THE UNITED WAY OF SOUTHERN WEST VIRGINIA
The United Way of Southern WV is committed to long term flood recovery, along with The United Way of Greenbrier Valley and The United Way of Central WV. 100% of proceeds donated to the flood relief effort will be used to help our communities repair their infrastructure, to return to normal life as quickly as possible, as well as provide long-term support to the region. Our sincere thanks to Deep Roots Mountain Revival for their generosity, their confidence, and their trust in our organizations. We promise to combine your gift with others to deliver long-term solutions for southern West Virginia’s people in need. Thank you for investing in Southern West Virginia! More information can be found here www.mountainrevival.com/partners/united-way-flood-relief-campaign/ Continue reading Deep Roots Mountain Revival Festival on Marvin’s Mountaintop (Sept 15-18)

Greensky Bluegrass Halloween Bash

Greensky Bluegrass Halloween Bash
October 31, 2015
Fox Theater, Oakland, CA
Photography: Susan J. Weiand

 

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Huck Finn Jubilee

Huck Finn Jubille

Ontario, California

June 10 – 12, 2015

Featuring sets from Bela Fleck, Sierra Hull, Hot Rize, Del McCoury Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, Ricky Skaggs & The Kentucky Thunder, Steve Martin, Jeff Austin Band, Railroad Earth, Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Greensky Bluegrass, and Leftover Salmon.  

DAY 1

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn 01 Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn 02 Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn 03 Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn 04 Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn 05 Del McCoury Band 01 Del McCoury Band 02 Del McCoury Band 03 Del McCoury Band 04 Del McCoury Band 05 Del McCoury Band 06 Del McCoury Band 07 Hot Rize 01 Hot Rize 02 Hot Rize 03 Hot Rize 04 Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers 01 Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers 02 Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers 03 Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers 04 Sierra Hull 01 Sierra Hull 02 Sierra Hull 03

DAY 2

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DAY 3

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Greensky Bluegrass winter tour dates

Greensky Bluegrass has announced an extensive set of winter tour dates as well as some initial summer and festival dates.

JANUARY
13 – Bluebird Theatre – Bloomington, IN
14 – Bijou Theatre – Knoxville, TN
15 – WorkPlay – Birmingham, AL
16 – Marathon Music Works – Nashville, TN
17 – Georgia Theater – Athens, GA
20 – State Theater – St. Petersburg, FL
21 – Freebird Live – Jacksonville, FL
22 – The Pour House – Charleston, SC
23 – The Pour House – Charleston, SC
24 – Barter Theater – Abingdon, VA
27 – State Theatre – State College, PA
28+29 – Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY
30+31 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC

FEBRUARY
3 – Port City Music Hall – Portland, ME
4 – Pearl Street – Northampton, MA
5 – Westcott Theater – Syracuse, NY
6 – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH
7 – The Intersection – Grand Rapids, MI
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9 – Headliners Music Hall – Louisville, KY
20 – Park Street Saloon – Columbus, OH
21 – House of Blues – Chicago, IL
26 – Opera House – Stoughton, WI
27 – Pabst Theater – Milwaukee, WI
28 – Mill City Nights – Minneapolis, MN

MARCH
1 – Blue Moose – Iowa City, IA
3 – George’s Majestic – Fayatteville, AR
4 – Lyric Theater – Oxford, MS
5 – Tipitina’s – New Orleans, LA
6+7 – The Parish – Austin, TX
8 – Granada Theatre – Dallas, TX
10 – Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK
12,13,14 – Boulder Theater – Boulder, CO
19 – McDonald Theatre – Eugene, OR
20 – Arcata Theatre – Arcata, CA
21+22 – WinterWonderGrass – Squaw Valley, CA

MAY
8+9 – Aiken Bluegrass Fest – Aiken, SC

JUNE
12 – Blue Ox Music Festival – Eau Claire, WI
18-21 Telluride Bluegrass – Telluride, CO

JULY
16+17 – NW String Summit – N. Plains, OR
25-26  – Floyd Fest – Floyd, VA

A Band With No Drums: Greensky Bluegrass and If Sorrows Swim

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Words and photos by Tim Newby

“A band with no drums,” says Paul Hoffman, mandolinist, singer, and songwriter in Greensky Bluegrass. Hoffman had been trying to best explain his band’s sound, which is a mix of traditional style bluegrass and a more adventurous brand of roots-rock. “I used to say that we are not a bluegrass band and try to convince people that there is more involved,” says Hoffman, “but we absolutely are a bluegrass band and can play the shit out of some bluegrass. We just don’t do it all day. It is not all we do.” With a taste of the humor the gives the band much of its personality and makes them so much fun to see live, Hoffman continues with tongue firmly in cheek, “Besides the pun wouldn’t make any sense without the second word in our name.”

Hoffman is right though; bluegrass is not all they do. They are so much more than that. While their music is built firmly up the traditional bluegrass sound with their line-up of banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, Dobro, and upright bass, the way in which they reinterpret that traditional sound is miles away from what Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs first played so many years ago. While they have those elements that one would expect to find in traditional bluegrass – acoustic instruments, fast virtuosic playing, tight vocal harmonies, and instrumental solo breakdowns – it is what they do with those simple elements that sets the band apart from the past and points towards the future.   DSCN1704

Greensky Bluegrass have always tread the line between the old and the new, moving easily from traditional tunes such as “Working on a Building,” or “Pig in a Pen,” to Bruce Hornsby’s “King of the Hill,” or Traffic’s “Light up or Leave me Alone,”  throughout the course of their high-energy live shows.  This chameleon-like ability is shown fully on their song “All Four” from their 2011 album Handguns. The song starts with what seemingly seems to be a simple finger picked banjo led-lament that quickly dissolves into a lengthy, adventurous jam the likes of which would be completely foreign to those only reared in traditional bluegrass. In concert “All Four” is even more of a beast, regularly stretching past the fifteen minute-mark. And let’s be honest your parent’s bluegrass does not regularly include fifteen-minute spacey jams that jockey for position on the interstellar overdrive highway.   It is this mix of the old and the new that has enabled Greensky Bluegrass to explode over the past couple of years and establish themselves as leaders of the new jam-grass movement.

Since forming in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Michigan around the trio of banjo-picker Michael Arlen Bont, guitarist Dave Bruzza, and mandolinist Paul Hoffman, the band has seen a steady, rapid growth.  They added bassist Mike Devol in 2004 which was soon followed by a win at the prestigious band contest at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2006. Shortly after, 2007, they rounded out their line-up when they added Dobroist Anders Beck.  The addition of Beck helped solidify the band’s progressive take on bluegrass. DSCN2452edited

In 2010 at the annual Delfest the band had a coming-out-party of sorts. They played three sets over the course of the weekend and with each set seemed to see their audience increase in size each time. The three sets also served to showcase all the far-ranging aspects of Greensky’s diverse musical personality. They started the weekend playing along with Del McCoury and host of guests when their main stage set was rained out and they moved inside to the Music Hall and played as part of the songwriter showcase.  Their set inside ended up being more a showcase for Greensky and their traditional chops as they played a set that was nothing but old covers and bluegrass songs. The following morning the band started the day again inside the Music Hall playing a set list that was entirely made up of rock covers that do not normally rear their heads in the bluegrass world, which allowed the band to exhibit their unmatched ability to meld completely diverse styles of music into something wholly unique. Greensky’s final set of the weekend was to a packed field at the side stage during which they played nothing but original material. It was the perfect capstone to the weekend as the band had shown all facets of their vast musical spectrum over their three sets and defined what truly makes up the music of Greensky Bluegrass, a mix that Hoffman describes as “our material, bluegrass, and those weird covers and other things we bring to bluegrass or we bring bluegrass too.”   2014-09-07_12-16-01

This diversity of the band’s musical persona is perfectly captured on the band’s latest album, the stunning If Sorrows Swim. The album, like the band, veers from style to style, yet does so while maintaining an identity that is wholly Greensky. The album was built around the skeleton of twelve songs written by the band’s primary songwriters Hoffman and guitarist Bruzza, yet arranged by the whole band. Hoffman says the band’s approach this time was different than on previous albums. “We had worked on the songs some before we got into the studio, but this time more than any other album it was undecided what the shape of it would be until we got into the studio. It was pretty drastic sometimes. We would say, ‘Let’s play this song bluegrassy, let’s try it halftime, folky, swingy,’ there was a lot of freedom and possibilities.” The songs slowly developed and took shape both on stage and in the studio. For Hoffman one of the toughest things was finally saying a song was finished, “Each song morphed and changed and that is one of the hard things of making a record, that commitment to the song and the final draft of it.”

The final draft of If Sorrows Swim is a schizophrenic mix, bouncing from the heartfelt lament of album opener “Windshield,” toGSBG the classic banjo roll on “Letter to Seymour,” to the rocking one-two punch of “Kerosene,” and “Demons,” but a schizophrenic mix that has a unifying, cohesive feel to it. “Working song arrangement and order was a challenge with this record,” explains Hoffman, “This is not a concept album where clearly this song goes before this one and leads into this one like Dark Side of the Moon that is all in the key of A and B and all relative pitch wise and it just goes the way it goes because that’s how it goes.” To help with the sequencing of the album, Hoffman says the band thought of it like one of their lives shows and paced it like they would a set list. “When we write a set list we pay attention to how it’s going to flow and where to put the fast ones in and where to put the spacey ones in. So I think the album flows like that.” This approach to pacing and song-order was born from the band’s desire to always keep things interesting on stage. “Early on we didn’t want to just play bluegrass all night long because that would be boring to just go chucka-chucka all night,” says Hoffman, “Sometimes we want to go boom-boom!” This live set list approach to the sequencing of the album rewards a long attention span, as it moves and peaks like a concert and takes the listener on a sonic, emotional journey.   DSCN2458edited

The album opens with the slow-burning build-up of “Windshield.” “Windshield” is a powerful opener Hoffman describes as a “real four-on-the-floor, downbeat, back chop which is sorta the opposite of what we are supposed to do.” It is precisely the kind of huge song U2 would have written in the eighties if they had decided to ditch their pretentious rock-leanings and grab acoustic instruments and pick some bluegrass. The song is a compelling statement from Greensky about what they are capable of and where they are going musically. While it hints at the band’s bluegrass roots, it highlights their ability to take those roots and push them all over the musical map. The rest of the album follows this exploratory template laid down in the first song. Over the course of If Sorrows Swim Greensky uses inventive song structures, tasteful melodic phrasing, and unique sonic textures to create an album that pushes the limits and boundaries of bluegrass-inspired music into the stratosphere, going to realms never visited by the banjo and mandolin before.

The dynamics of having two primary songwriters, with Hoffman’s more rock-styled tunes and Bruzza’s elegantly traditional sounding songs, help create a contrast of themes and styles that work to flesh out the personality of the album. Hoffman DSCN1483editedmentions some of the new ideas and chances he has been taking in his songwriting and how they have been influenced by some unlikely musicians:

I like to listen to something that I can get an idea about song structure and melodic tendencies from because folk and bluegrass stays pretty formulaic. What’s great about our band is I can write great songs that stand alone with me singing and playing guitar, but we are also a rock band that does all this exploratory stuff and can open it up and explore every night and there is a real balance between the two.

I listen to an album by a band like Alt-J and it is all about textures and I love the feel and mood of the music. Then I will listen to Jason Isabell’s new record and be like, man, this guy can write some friggin’ lyrics and I am inspired by both things in a different way.

DSCN1736editedGreensky Bluegrass has been on a steady trajectory upward since their first days as a band. They have seen half-full venues become packed the next time they visit, they have seen early-afternoon side-stage timeslots grow into main stage headlining slots at festivals, and they have seen their fan base organically grow as Hoffman proudly declares, “a handful of fans at a time.” With the release of If Sorrows Swim and the way it will appeal to a broad spectrum of fans, those fans will most likely grow at a rate much greater rate than a handful at a time. If Sorrows Swim seems to herald broad, new horizons for the band; Hoffman says that while they are excited they look took to keep things in perspective. “I hope this record gets as much attention as it can get, but we don’t want anything we don’t deserve. I would love to see some more of that crossover to fans of something like Jason Isabell who didn’t think they liked bluegrass, but they really like one of our songs or a fan of Alt-J who can listen and think ‘Wow, these guys can make some nice textures.’ Just like I cross over in my tastes, I want people to not be afraid that we are a bluegrass band, so that they will actually sink in and realize they like it. And that seems to happen more and more every year and the more that happens the prouder I am,” Hoffman pauses before finishing his thought, “It is all about good music. It is either good or it is not.”