Josh Sweigert

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March 5, 2014
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Greensky Bluegrass is Crystal Bay-bound

Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room will get an extra dose of green just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, when Michigan bluegrass sensation Greensky Bluegrass descends on the Crown Room on Friday, March 7.

Greensky Bluegrass is Dave Bruzza (guitar), Anders Beck (dobro), Mike Bont (banjo), Mike Devol (bass) and Paul Hoffman (mandolin). Formed out of a group of friends playing around a local music scene, the group came together in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“Three of us were playing open mics about 10 or 11 years ago, it just became a fun thing,” Bruzza said in 2011. “We started playing at local shows and then about five years ago things just sort of took off.”

Greensky first gained national attention after winning the 2006 Telluride Band Competition, along with the coveted prize of a booking at the next year’s festival.

“That was definitely a starting point for what we’re doing now,” Bruzza told the Action in 2011.

After the breakthrough success at Telluride, Greensky Bluegrass quickly grew a name on the bluegrass and jamgrass circuit, returning to that venue, High Sierra Music Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and the Northwestern String Summit, among many others.

2014 has had Greensky Bluegrass spending much of its time on the road again. After a recent break from touring, the band is heading west on a five-week tour.

“We just got done with a pretty successful first leg of a winter/spring tour out on the East Coast,” Bont said. “We just had a week off back home and are getting ready to head out west here; we’re starting out in Colorado and then we’re all points west and south from there.”

Western tours hold a special nostalgia for the band, the banjo player said.

“I’m just really stoked to be heading west,” Bont said. “The West Coast was the first — the real spot where fans were really receptive to us and people started coming to see our shows.”

Crystal Bay is one venue where the band has a history, having appeared there annually since 2009.

“It’s always a fun time,” Bont said of Crystal Bay Casino. “It’s a great room, good sound, and you can always gamble after the show too, which is fun.”

Greensky Bluegrass is also looking forward to the impending release of its newest album, “If Sorrows Swim,” the follow-up to 2011’s “Handguns.”

“We’re really excited about the project. We’re just getting into the phase of getting it promoted properly and we’re trying to get a release date set here,” Bont said, noting that the band hopes to release the album within a few months.

“In a lot of ways I feel it’s a continuation of what we started on ‘Handguns.’ That was one of the first albums, I think, that we had gained enough studio experience though the last couple of albums before, and we were able to be really creative, kind of know what we’re doing in the studio through the whole studio process. I think that lent to the music quite a bit,” Bont said. “It’s a lot more fun when you can get more involved in the process to know what’s going on.”

The band won’t return to Tahoe until fall at least, the banjo player said, making Friday the only chance for fans to hear Greensky Bluegrass at the lake for some time.

For his part, Bont wants to make sure no one misses the opportunity.

“I just want people to come out; oh, and buy tickets ahead of time,” he said, noting Greensky’s tendency to sell out shows in recent years.

“If they really want to go see the show they should buy tickets, because I would hate for anybody to get shut out.”

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Mar 5, 2014 09:34AM Published Mar 5, 2014 05:19PM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.