Greensky Bluegrass

with The Infamous Stringdusters

Thu, January 27, 2022

State Theatre

Doors: 6:00pm - Show: 7:30pm - all ages

$35 advance
$40 day of show

The State Theatre box office will open 1 hour before doors night of show.

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Greensky Bluegrass

Since their 2000 formation in Kalamazoo, MI, the quintet—Anders Beck [dobro], Michael Arlen Bont [banjo], Dave Bruzza [guitar], Mike Devol [upright bass], and Paul Hoffman [mandolin]—have unassumingly progressed into a phenomenon on their own terms with the undying support of a devout audience. Rolling back and forth across North America on successive tours, they recently sold out 3 nights at Red Rocks, a feat unheard of in their genre. During 2019, All For Money marked their second #1 debut on the Billboard Top Bluegrass Albums Chart and third straight Top 3 entry. They’ve also earned critical acclaim from Billboard, Parade, NPR, and Rolling Stone who hailed them as “representing the genre for a whole new generation.”

As always, the band embrace tradition, while ushering bluegrass forward on their eighth full-length offering, Stress Dreams.

“Greensky is and always has been very unique in our world,” observes Paul. “We put our love, energy, and focus into what we appreciate about our music. We come together as a band in a way that’s organic. We take a lot of pride in how we grow and challenge each other too. We’re maturing together. I think we get more Greensky all of the time.”

They took advantage of the time to become “more Greensky” in 2020. After touring ceased in the face of the Global Pandemic, the band hunkered down and compiled demos individually at first, sharing emails and voice notes. In July 2020, they got together for the first time in four months, dedicating rehearsals to the development of the new material. Once circumstances safely permitted, they recorded what would become Stress Dreams during a session in Gilford, VT and two sessions in Asheville, NC. The band co-produced with frequent collaborator “and old friend” Dominic John Davis (Jack White’s touring and studio bassist) and “wizard engineer” and grammy winning producer Glenn Brown. They preserved the hallmarks of their sound, while widening its expanse.

“It didn’t feel like we were squeezing this project into the schedule,” says Mike. “The lack of gigs gave us the freedom to get together solely to work on this. It was a relaxed environment. There wasn’t the pressure of time; the songs got space to breathe.”

“For all of our records, we always take more time to explore and experiment,” Paul elaborates. “We finished ideas and kept going, thinking everything all the way through. We really put energy into each specific song and made it the best it could be.”

The single “Grow Together” blossoms into a patchwork of nimble banjo, acoustic guitar, and mandolin as the dobro (routed through a Marshall amplifier) teems with fuzzy heart. Meanwhile, Paul delivers an intimate live vocal performance capped off by the hook—“That we can grow old together, if we can find the time”— and an evocative electric guitar solo.

“It was the first tune I had written in a really long time,” states Paul. “My daughter was just born. When she was five-weeks-old, I sat down on the floor with her and spit this one out. It was an appreciation for my wife and what it meant to become a father. I had never been so moved in the studio as I was when we recorded it. A lot of my songs have come from an open place of serious personal emotions, but this one was different. Instead of fighting against weakness and pain, it’s romantic, happy, heartfelt, and uplifting.”

The opener “Absence of Reason” borders on mystical with its psychedelically-wrung whale moans on the dobro and JJ Cale-inspired fleet-fingered chicken-pickin’, making for what the guys agree is a “positive creative experiment.” Meanwhile, “guitarmonies” uphold the towering refrain of “Monument”—co-written by Anders and Chris Gelbuda.

“‘Monument’ meant more once quarantine happened,” recalls Anders. “It’s about how our lives changed so much when we were locked up at home. We were trying to harness the feeling of everything being taken away in an instant. At the same 6me, the energy reflects the feeling of getting back on stage and playing in front of 10,000 people post-COVID.”

Penned by Mike, the eight-minute tittle track “Stress Dreams” leans into a fascinating 6/8 time signature underscored by piano and an ethereal mandolin-led crescendo.

“It was quite literally about having weird dreams,” says Mike. “There’s a circular pattern to being stressed and repeating your thought process. In our job, we operate with some level of predictability. Our schedule is booked out a year in advance. Once the Pandemic hit, we didn’t know when we would see each other and play again. Now we are playing again, but we don’t know if it’s going to be taken away in a moment’s notice. It gives added value to the present moment. To make music with my friends for five weeks was such a gift. A lot of the album speaks to this y.”

The closer “Reasons To Stay” ends the album on a lighthearted and funky note with its surprisingly sexy climax as Paul assures, “You’re just made of reasons to stay.”

“It’s about the physical attributes of the person you’re spending the night with,” Mike goes on. “Paul sings it way sexier than I ever could. If my wife asks, it’s a love song,” he laughs.

In the end, the story of Greensky Bluegrass just keeps getting better as well.

“There’s a duality to this band,” Anders leaves off. “On one hand, we improvise and go outside the box on stage. The studio brings out our artistic side. We grow every time we make a record. I hope you hear and see the evolution.”
“We just can’t wait to play shows, hug our friends, and play music with other musicians we love and respect,” Paul concludes. “Besides, we’ve got 13 new songs to add to the set list!”

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters dig deep into their bluegrass roots for their eleventh full-length record A Tribute to Bill Monroe, made available on Americana Vibes. For this album – which pays homage to the Father of Bluegrass includes songs that shaped them individually, and as a band, and recorded them each remotely from their home studios.

“Bill Monroe was, as far as I can remember, the first bluegrass music I owned,” shared Andy Hall. I asked my uncle for a Bill Monroe CD box set and got it as a birthday present when I turned 18. The sound coming out of my speakers blew my mind, almost like ancient acoustic heavy metal. But then a song like ‘A Voice From On High’ would come on, and even though it was slow, it had this captivating power. The ancient tones.”

The GRAMMY® Award-winning quintet—Andy Falco [guitar], Chris Pandolfi [banjo], Andy Hall [dobro], Jeremy Garrett [fiddle], and Travis Book [double bass]—have musical influences that truly run the gamut, but their common denominator is certainly bluegrass — the sound that has in essence defined the course of their career.

This particular body of work, the first in a series of bluegrass tribute albums, was an obvious choice in that Bill Monroe truly laid the foundation for bluegrass as we know it today.

This particular style of music is still played, and honored, 75 years later and remains a total creative force, something that albeit separated by the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the live music industry, the ‘Dusters (as they’re known to their fans) came together in their truest, most authentic form to create.

The Infamous Stringdusters stand out as the rare group who can team up with contemporary artists on late night television one night and headline the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre or perform alongside The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh the next, and have recently emerged as proprietors behind their newly found independent record label, Americana Vibes.

Manifesting an actual flock of impassioned fandom, much like those who paved the road before them, the band have attracted a faithful international audience that continues to grow. Moreover, their powerful music and performances paved the way for a GRAMMY® Award win in the category of “Best Bluegrass Album” for 2017’s Laws of Gravity, and a number of International Bluegrass Music Awards in a variety of categories.

Sometimes going back to the roots is where we are most likely to find opportunities for growth and evolution, so A Tribute to Bill Monroe was the catalyst for returning home.

“Once we realized that we were going to be grounded for a good while, we found the best way for us to stay connected musically, as a band spread out around the country, would be to record remotely, each guy from his own home studio,” shared Andy Falco. “The silver lining of it was recording albums [such as Dust the Halls: An Acoustic Christmas Holiday and A Tribute to Bill Monroe) like we always talked about but didn’t have the time to actually do because of our busy touring schedule. The most important thing is for the art to continue, and we are very happy to have been able to create despite our different geographical locations.”

Bill Monroe was most widely known for his mandolin playing, however interestingly enough, the mandolin does not appear once in the Dusters’ interpretation. So, while the nature of Bill Monroe’s bluegrass resides within the spirit of innovation, the Dusters took that same leap of faith in excluding Monroe’s instrument in that they “followed their own path to be innovators in the music they create together,” shared Jeremy Garrett, “along with exploiting the musical foundation they all share.”

This album, like both December 2020’s holiday album and their last pre-pandemic effort, Rise Sun, was self-produced offering the band an opportunity to stay connected musically, together/apart, for which they are grateful.

A Tribute to Bill Monroe is the Infamous Stringdusters telling listeners that they are slowly and continually evolving, by honoring the roots of the music that has shaped them as a band and individually. The songs are meaningful, and the musical parts have become more essential.

The Dusters are a brotherhood, but that family extends beyond the band even. And with most of the past year apart (and off), the guys can’t wait to hear what the future has in store for them musically speaking, and the hope is to bring that very musical joy back into people’s lives.

“[the band] summon the light, which is all the more astonishing considering they tend to formulate their ideas individually before bringing them to the table.” – Bluegrass Situation

“…they represent a different side of the same socially aware coin that funds less positive, equally progressive artists’ countercultural capital.” – No Depression