For nearly two decades, the members of Greensky Bluegrass have created their own version of bluegrass music, mixing the acoustic stomp of a stringband with the rule-breaking spirit of rock & roll.
Formed in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Greensky Bluegrass kicked off their career playing living rooms and open mic nights across the Midwest. By 2005, they were touring nationally, and by 2006, they were playing the first in a long series of appearances at the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Bandmates Hoffman, Bruzza, dobro player Anders Beck, banjoist Michael Arlen Bont, and upright bassist Mike Devol spent most of the following decade on the road, fine-tuning a live show modeled not after the toned-down production of traditional bluegrass music, but the full-on spectacle of rock.
"We play two sets of music every night with a big light show, and really care about creating a large scale production," notes Bruzza, adding that, "the goal isn't just to play important music. We want to cultivate an experience, where people can escape from their everyday lives for a minute and put their worries aside."
Playing as many as 175 shows per year, Greensky Bluegrass have graduated to headlining status at some of the country's most iconic venues, selling out amphitheaters like Red Rocks in Colorado and world-class auditoriums like the Ryman in Nashville. They've become a regular name on the festival circuit, too, adding Bonnaroo, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Austin City Limits, Forecastle, and Outside Lands to their touring schedule. Supported by a grassroots audience whose members often travel for hours to see the band, Greensky Bluegrass are still a proudly independent act, enjoying the success of a major-label act — including a top end appearances of all three of their most recent albums on Billboard's Bluegrass chart — without giving up complete control of their own business.
While “green sky” is the opposite of “blue grass“, the band insists that the juxtaposition of their name came about as more of a pun than a statement about their music. “Along with the tradition of bluegrass, we all have lots of different musical influences that we bring to the table”, says guitar player Dave Bruzza, “and we somehow wanted to reflect that in our name.” Upon witnessing the band’s live shows, this statement seems to make a little more sense.