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Fresh grass is cut with Greensky

Nick Brown
Special to Action
Photo by Nick BrownGreensky Bluegrass - Mike Bont, from left, Paul Hoffman, Mike Devol, Dave Bruzza and Anders Beck - pick away at the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room Wednesday, April 25.
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The grass is always greener on the other side? Contrary to popular belief, the grass is blue, and the other side happened to be at the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room Wednesday night, April 25, where Greensky Bluegrass put on a string-melting performance.

Hailing from the Great Lakes, this Michigan quintet felt right at home in Lake Tahoe.

“We’ve been here a bunch; we’ve played a couple nights with Yonder Mountain String Band here, and a couple other times. We love it here; it’s a great place to play,” said dobro player Anders Beck.

GSBG sounded polished and in harmony; with more than a decade under their belts, the roots-style bluegrass band didn’t waste anytime getting down to business. “Kerosene,” an unreleased song, was the first of the night. The new music with rapid strings and gritty yet refined vocals excited old fans and quickly made new disciples of any questioning audience member.

“We learn new songs and write new songs so we don’t get bored. We have a pretty big repertoire. We write new music so that it stays fresh. We don’t play the same show two nights in a row; we try to mix it up. But even then when we are on tour for like two months, we just need new songs, new covers, writing new stuff, music that helps keep it fresh for us,” said Beck.

Anders Beck (dobro), Mike Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), Mike Devol (upright bass) and Paul Hoffman (mandolin) make up the quintet. It’s impressive that all of these musicians soulfully sing and have no problem trading off playing harmony, melody and rhythm with seamless transitions. Their sound is so finely tuned it will never leave a hiccup in your dance step. Beck and Hoffman provided plenty of jaw-dropping duels as the two fed off each other’s energy with the not-so-common combination of mandolin and dobro.

If all of the dancing didn’t make you thirsty, then the song “Bottle Dry” had to leave you parched. The quintet ever-so-smoothly blended their voices together, plucking high notes accompanied by deep bass lines. You couldn’t help but to sway your legs and close your eyes imagining sitting atop of a wooden bar stool with saloon doors swinging and tumble weeds blowing by. Greensky Bluegrass is the real deal.

To switch moods, GSBG put a twist on the timely Smokey Robinson & The Temptations classic, “Second that Emotion.”

When asked about the band’s influences Anders responded: “A lot of guys that were sort of my heroes and influences are now our friends, so that’s pretty cool. Like the guys in Left Over Salmon and String Cheese Incident guys. Guys like Drew Emmit and Billy Nershi are really positive on what we are doing, they will always come up and play with us, and we’ll play with them. Like I said, it’s pretty cool because they’re sort of guys I grew up listening to, now they’re good friends and musical counter parts. The Yonder (Mount String Band) guys and Railroad Earth guys have really helped pave the way for us, which is cool. Tim Carbone from Railroad Earth produced a couple of our albums, so we do a lot of shows with them. Sam Bush and Bela Fleck are really big influences on our music,”

Greensky Bluegrass will be touring extensively this summer; don’t miss your chance to see them at one of many stops including: High Sierra Music Festival or Strawberry Music festival.Ă


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