Greensky brings the bluegrass to Park City
March 25, 2016
Since its formation in 2000, Greensky Bluegrass has won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition and performed at Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads with Lesh. They are road warriors, too, playing 175 to 200 shows a year.
Their tour now brings them to Park City Live on March 30, nearly a year after the band’s last Park City show, and dobroist Anders Beck said he’s looking forward to playing Park City again.
In fact, he joked that since the band plays here so often, he should buy a winter home in town.
"I’d actually use it year-round," Anders said with a laugh during a Park Record phone interview from Denver. "That would be cool."
When Greensky Bluegrass — Beck, banjoist Michael Arlen Bont, guitarist Dave Bruzza, upright bassist Mike Devol and mandolinist Paul Hoffman — plays in town, Beck promised some new songs.
"We are in the process of working on a new album, which is really exciting," he said. "We’re close to finishing the next record, although there is still some work to be done. But we’ve started playing a couple of the new songs, that may or may not be on the new album, during our live shows."
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The band also wants to add other songs into the Park City set.
"We have probably 200 different songs we can draw from on any given night," Beck said. "We try to take in consideration what we played the night or a couple of nights before and what we played in Park City last time we were there, in order to make the show unique for the fans."
Coming up with a set list every night is a fun but also arduous process, according to Beck.
"Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a pop band that plays the same songs every night," he said with a laugh. "But once I get on stage, I’m glad we’re not a pop band that plays the same songs every night."
Beck, who joined Greensky Bluegrass in 2008, found his way to the dobro via electric guitar.
"I come from a background playing rock and jam-band music, but when I got into bluegrass, I realized that acoustic and flat-picking didn’t really connect with me, although I loved the music," he said. "Then I saw my first dobro at the Telluride Music Festival some 12 years ago."
Although Beck had heard the dobro on albums, the Telluride workshop, presented by Jerry Douglas, was the first time he had actually seen one.
"This was the first time I really felt a connection with it," Beck said. "It sounded kind of like the electric guitar in acoustic music because it had that sustain and a little edge to it. So, the next day I bought [one] and have been practicing every day since."
Beck felt the pull to bluegrass about the same time he discovered the dobro.
"I was living in Durango, Colorado, at the time and my friends and I got into it," he said. "It started with the singer and songwriter side of it, but beyond that, I realized it was the fact that this is a players’ music. I mean, you can sit around with five of your friends and just play and that was cool because I was searching for a form of music where improvisation appealed to me."
Anders also latched onto the jazz and improvisation aspect of bluegrass.
"It’s like hillbilly jazz, and it’s played by some of the best musicians in the world," he said. "I mean when a 20-second mandolin solo comes up in a song, every great bluegrass player will interpret that solo in a different way."
Eight years ago, Anders joined Greensky Bluegrass, technically replacing Al Bates.
"Al hadn’t been in the band for a couple of years before I joined, so they were playing without a fifth member for quite a while," Anders explained. "I auditioned, which, on some level, was a nice way to enter the group because anything you do is better than that empty space."
Regardless of the excitement he and the band felt, everyone agreed to a trial period.
"We were all friends and we had spoken about me joining the band, but we decided that I should tour with them to see how it all fit together," Anders said. "It was all pretty low key, but you learn a lot about people when you’re on the road."
Before the tour ended, the band and Anders knew it would work out musically and personally.
"The only thing we had to figure out was how we would all pay our rents if we split the pie one more way," Anders said with a laugh.
Greensky Bluegrass will play at Park City Live, 427 Main St., on Wednesday, March 30. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are available by visiting http://www.parkcitylive.net . For more information visit http://www.greenskybluegrass.com .