“It’s not enough to feel it, it needs to overwhelm you,” sings the sensibility of Greensky Bluegrass as they ride the wave of a genre redesigned, where the centralized point of America’s Appalachian roots music spirals out further towards popular dubs of Newgrass and Jamgrass to provide a fresh take on the traces of Mr. Monroe’s and Mr. Stanley’s original styling’s.
Aptly borrowed from an episode of This American Life, If Sorrows Swim is the current release from the mostly-based Kalamazoo band. “The context of the phrase was something we kind of fell in love with; it’s about drinking and being sad,” laughed Greensky’s guitarist Dave Bruzza during a recent interview with Miranda Brooks of IndyMojo. With sentimentality most American’s can relate to, the album, furthermore, is benefiting from increased exposure with first-time distribution help from Nashville-based Thirty Tigers.
The traditional, all-stringed instrumentation of Greensky formed organically at open mic nights in Michigan with a full-time touring schedule that began in 2006.
“We just did it, just went for it, for years, we played everywhere. Then something happened along the way and it was like, ‘Oh shit.’”
Clearly the 200+ days a year of travel have proven to be a selling point for the five-piece.
“Promoters like to know you can bring an audience,” Bruzza said, referencing the larger festival circuit invitations they’ve received from Bonnaroo to Northwest String Summit to Outsidelands.
Perhaps Greensky’s accessibility to mainstream acceptance is their unique, hardly strictly Bluegrass background mixed with their evident ‘raised on Rock and Roll’ experimentation within the genre.
“Though our name surely suggests to anyone who doesn’t know who we are, we never intended to be specifically labeled.”
The dynamic ability of the band is known to those who’ve experienced their live shows.
“So many of our fans come to multiple shows, so it’s important for us to be fresh,” Bruzza said of Greensky’s familiar, prescribed, yet varietal sound.
But what’s interesting is the fact that much of Sorrows was arranged primarily in the studio, void of excess rehearsal and on-the-road confirmation.
“We played ‘Windshield’ once and then recorded it; it was amazing to hear to such a raw, powerful song.” Ironically, ‘Windshield’ was played live for the first time at Telluride Bluegrass in 2013…after the album was completed. For reasons undisclosed, Greensky sat on Sorrows for well over a year and experienced both anxious eagerness and forced patience with its debut.
“We had this new music and wanted to get it out, so, yeah, there were some times we felt a bit frustrated,” Bruzza remembered. Frustrations aside, the product of their efforts, If Sorrows Swim, charted in the top fifty for iTunes downloads on the day of its release.
The idea of ‘making it’ in today’s music world may be relative and difficult to describe, but Greensky Bluegrass’ path appears to suit them just fine. “We love what we do, playing together, and creating music,” Bruzza added, “It’s great that people are acknowledging the fact that there is a future for Bluegrass.”
Greensky’s sound undoubtedly impacts the burgeoning landscape of their namesake genre, even if its trajectory may not be historically straight forward.
Want to win tickets?
In the spirit of the tour, please leave a comment describing your favorite Greensky show or song. One winner will be randomly-selected by Thursday, October 2nd and will receive two tickets to the show.