Josh Sweigert

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October 30, 2013
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Greensky Bluegrass comes back for thirds

You might say Greensky Bluegrass is spoiling Lake Tahoe area string-band fans with repeat visits this year. You could also say the group simply covers a lot of ground on tour and likes to stop by Tahoe whenever possible. Either way, you can catch the Michigan quintet live at Crystal Bay Casino, where the band is making one stop on a whirlwind fall tour — its third show in the Tahoe region in 2013, on Thursday, Nov. 7,

“We’ve been basically all over,” banjo player Mike Bont said of the group’s current run. “We started in September in the north woods of Wisconsin, Michigan and did a bunch of East Coast shows. We worked our way down south, and now we’re heading west.”

Greensky Bluegrass is Bont, Dave Bruzza (guitar), Anders Beck (dobro), 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 and took the coveted prize of a booking at the next year’s bluegrass 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.

Greensky’s commitment to touring has remained strong in 2013, with the band appearing at Red Rocks, Forecastle Fest, Telluride and numerous other festivals during the year.

With this busy schedule, Greensky found time to play the Tahoe region twice: At a Phish after party in Stateline in July and at the Hangtown Halloween festival in Placerville Oct. 26 and 27.

“That went really, really well,” Bont said of Hangtown Halloween. “You know, it’s Railroad Earth’s festival. We dressed up like Railroad Earth and had their drummer sit in for a song. It was really funny.”

For its third and final 2013 performance, the band will return to a familiar venue in Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room. Greensky Bluegrass has appeared there annually since 2009.

“Shows up there are really great. Something cool always happens,” Bont said.

Aside from the ever-present next concert, the members of Greensky are mostly looking forward to the release of their upcoming album.

The follow-up to 2011’s “Handguns,” the upcoming record has a working title of “If Sorrows Swim,” Bont said.

“We haven’t released it yet,” he said. “We’re putting the finishing touches on it, hope to have it out sometime in the early winter, February, sometime around there.

“We have chosen the album art, and we’ve finished the mastering process too. Now we’re waiting to get it into press and get it out.”

The group has kept most of the new tunes out of its live shows, Bont said, waiting for the album release to showcase new material. With a release just around the corner, the anticipation among the band is building.

“We’re really excited to play a lot of the tunes that we haven’t played from the album,” Bont said. “We’re interested to see how they’ll carry from the studio into the live atmosphere because a couple of them are really ‘out there.’”

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Sierra Sun Updated Oct 30, 2013 10:57AM Published Oct 30, 2013 05:22PM Copyright 2013 Sierra Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.