Saturday, January 28, 2017

Greensky Bluegrass at the PlayStation Theater

Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar), and Paul Hoffman (mandolin) began learning to play bluegrass together in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, playing in Bont's basement and also at parties and open mics. Greensky Bluegrass grew into a quintet and by 2005, the band was touring nationally. Greensky Bluegrass won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition in 2006, earning the band a spot on the main stage of the 2007 festival and augmenting the band's notoriety with each passing festival. Greensky Bluegrass presently consists of Bont, Bruzza, Hoffman, Michael Devol on upright bass and Anders Beck on resonator guitar. The band's sixth and most recent album, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted, was released on September 23, 2016.

With each tour, Greensky Bluegrass' New York City audience has doubled in size. Starting at the apartment-sized Sullivan Hall, the group went on to headline Irving Plaza on its previous tour, and tonight headlined the PlayStation Theater, unheard of for a bluegrass band in New York. The performance highlighted why this was possible; Greensky Bluegrass flat-picked like a traditional bluegrass band but performed with the dynamics and the spirit of a rock band. Performing two sets, the band started with a more traditional set of arrangements and ended deep in swirling Grateful Dead-style psychedelia before the night was over. Energetic songs glided into one another often, held together by a common mission to pick strings masterfully to a driving yet drum-less stomp. On this night, the band rendered semi-acoustic versions of Traffic's "Light Up or Leave Me Alone," the Beatles' "A Day in the Life," Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City," the Stanley Brothers' "How Mountain Girls Can Love," and J.J. Cale's "After Midnight," all surrounded by original songs and substantial string-band improvisation. This was jam-grass at its finest.

Visit Greensky Bluegrass at

Set One:
  1. Hold On
  2. Jaywalking
  3. Light Up or Leave Me Alone (Traffic cover)
  4. 33443
  5. 200 Miles from Montana
  6. Hit Parade of Love
  7. Better Off
  8. Who Is Fredrico?
  9. A Day in the Life (The Beatles cover)> Run or Die
Set Two:
  1. Atlantic City (Bruce Springsteen cover) -> Broke Mountain Breakdown > Miss September
  2. How Mountain Girls Can Love > Dustbowl Overtures
  3. Windshield > The Four > Take Cover
  4. Don’t Lie

  1. Merely Avoiding > After Midnight (J.J. Cale cover)