Flyer Profile: Greensky Bluegrass

In the bluegrass world, there aren’t many bands with more national momentum right now than Greensky Bluegrass from Kalamazoo, Mich.

Greensky has played about 170 shows each year since 2006 and that road-dog mentality has paid off in a big way for the band. After winning the 2006 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition, they’ve played shows with the likes of Tony Rice and Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Yonder Mountain String Band and Railroad Earth, as well as making appearances at festivals like the inaugural Rothbury Festival in their home state of Michigan, and this year’s Mulberry Mountain Music Festival.

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Greensky will be making their Fayetteville debut at George’s Majestic Lounge. The show will start around 9:30 pm, and will be preceded by a ‘Greet and Meat’ potluck/cookout at Lit from 7:00 pm-9:00 pm where the band will be mingling with fans and food will be available to the public. Smoked Boston butt, some grilled chicken, and several vegetarian options will be provided (for free). Contributions to the meal, such as sides, dips and chips, will be accepted but not expected.

We got in touch with mandolin player Paul Hoffman from the band, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for us.

Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Greensky: Me? The Slip – “Eisenhower” and Phish’s “Festivalography” on satellite radio. That was today’s selections for me.

FF: Ever been to Fayetteville? If so (or if not) What is your impression of the place?
GSBG: We stayed there on our way to Mulberry Mountain in August. Haven’t played in town but there certainly has been pressure to. We’re looking forward to getting to know Fayetteville. We’d rather stop than drive by.

FF: You guys are on the road a lot. Do you still enjoy traveling?
GSBG: I love to travel. The nature of out tours doesn’t really allow much time for site seeing or experiencing each town. We get to enjoy local breakfast spots if we are tipped off, sample local beers, and drive by stuff. In my free time though, I still move around a lot.

FF: What are some of your favorite cities to play?
GSBG: The last year we’ve been focusing on the front range of Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. Maybe not even focusing but playing a lot. That makes it more fun for us. We get to know the people. Play better rooms, and inevitably, better music. But nothing beats a good show at home in Southwest MI. We’ve got two established shindigs in Kalamazoo that we put a lot of effort into making the best we can. A two night summer opener at Bell’s Brewery and a NYE party at the State Theatre. We’re focusing on building appeal for out-of-staters to come to these events. (hint hint)

FF: How did you discover bluegrass?
GSBG: We all came at it from different angles and we’re all playing instruments that we didn’t start on. I became interested in the mandolin after discovering grisman and bluegrass was the next logical step. Been moving from step to step ever since.

FF: There are a lot of elements of traditional bluegrass in your music, but there are lots of other influences peeking out in your music as well. What are some of those things, and where do they come from?
GSBG: Our influences are all so different and our ideas are a unique fusion of them. We’re trying to present new musical ideas in a familiar form. The goal is a musical experience that is fun, genuine and unique.

FF: How’s the bluegrass scene in Michigan?
GSBG: The music scene in MI isn’t huge because there just isn’t too many places to play. There is, however, lots of bustling in the acoustic scene. It’s not all bluegrass, per say, but there is a demand for it. Kalamazoo is, after all, the home of the Gibson banjo.

FF: Who are some of your favorite bands to play with?
GSBG: We’ve had a great time doing shows with Railroad Earth and Yonder over the last few years. We’ve made great friends with lots of bands across the country.

FF: What’s next for you guys?
GSBG: We’re trying to get a few live shows out for people to download and listen to. Put them thru some heavy production and get some of that improvisational energy out there. I’ve been writing a lot when we’re home too. Most of the songs haven’t made the stage yet. We’re piecing them together as we go and have some plans to rehearse around the holidays. Next year will present new tunes, new tricks, live releases and hopefully a new studio album.

Click below to hear Reverend from the album Five Interstates by Greensky Bluegrass