Greensky Bluegrass’ Road to Nowhere Bar: A review of the 3/26/11 Athens performance
Hailing from Michigan, this newgrass acoustic band treated Athenians to a night of bluegrass instruments, sweet melodic lyrics, and soulful bluegrass jamming on March 26, 2011. Appearing at Nowhere Bar in Athens, Ga. (only $6!), for those that had heard of Greensky Bluegrass, it was the show they have been waiting for. But for newcomers to Greensky’s rhapsodic rhythms, they had no idea what they were in for.
Paul Hoffman (mandolin), Michael Bond (banjo), and Dave Bruzza (guitar) began their journey as a newgrass band in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2000. Bassist Chris Carrand dobro (“drop steel”) player Al Bates were eventually replaced by Michael Devol(in 2004) and Anders Beck (in 2007), finalizing the five-piece ensemble.
After releasing their debut album in 2004, Greensky Bluegrass won the 2006 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition putting the band on the map and giving them a headlining spot for the 2007 festival.
Since then, Greensky has released three albums and two All Access volumes. Their second and third studio albums, Tuesday Letter and Five Interstates were produced by Railroad Earth violinist Tim Carbone. Greensky Bluegrass has collaborated live with renowned artists such as Larry Keel and shared the same stages with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones,Keller Williams, and Yonder Mountain String Band to just name a few.
Bottom line… Nowhere Bar regulars were very excited to have such a big-wheel bluegrass act! Greensky Bluegrass played two sets, both an hour and a half. They opened their first set – so appropriately – with a cover of the Talking Heads song“Road to Nowhere” (recorded on their 2007 Live at Bells album). This Talking Heads favorite from the 1985 album Little Creatures showed off Greensky’s harmonies with its gospel-like intro and the banjo and mandolin renditions set the tone for a show that was sure to be a pickin’ good time.
Paying special attention to their most recent studio recorded album, Five Interstates, Greensky Bluegrass never slowed down but occasionally touched our sentimental sides in the first set playing “Old Barns” and “Just to Lie.” Their lyrics about mountains, spring water, and the everyday beauties and blues of life had listeners raising their glasses in an “Amen!” or bouncing around the dance floor unable to wipe the grin off their face. The second set was a marathon of stomping tunes full of fiery mandolin and banjo solos including “Broken Highways,” “Can’t Make Time” and a cover of The Band’s “The Shape I’m In.”
If you missed out on this ramblin’ good time, don’t worry! Greensky Bluegrass will be touring all summer hitting some of the biggest festivals in the country including Electric Forest and All Good Music Festival. And if you simply can’t wait, Greensky Bluegrass will be playing at the Sweeatwater 4:20 Festival in Atlanta April 17th and the Hangout Music Festivalin Alabama May 20th. Check out their website to see the rest of their tour schedule at www.greenskybluegrass.com.