Despite their name, Greensky Bluegrass is not your typical bluegrass band (a point that is more often than not addressed when discussing their music). They’re a fully acoustic five-member outfit: no percussion and no electric instruments. Yet, in filling up massive venues like Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater with adoring fans across the country, the group has proven their ability to curate that larger-than-life rock ‘n’ roll atmosphere with just five string instruments, and a lot of skill.
Come October 6, the Michigan-based group is rolling into town to rock Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre—a venue that, quite frankly, should complement their acoustic accuracy to wonderful effect. Keep reading for a quick introduction to the jamgrass mainstays with their dobro player, Anders Beck.
Is this your first time playing at the Capitol Theater? What are you most excited about coming to this venue?
We played there once or twice before. It’s awesome. It’s an amazing venue. We’re always psyched when we get to play there. It’s the great combination of the classic old historical room, that has been updated to be modern. It’s a great juxtaposition of everything you want in a venue. It’s got the amazing history. It’s got people that have upgraded the important parts, sound systems and cementing. It’s one of those rooms you start to walk in and you feel a vibe of the place for lack of a better word. Realize all the amazing things that have gone down there over many, many, many years, and you just instantly rise to the occasion musically.
This stop at the Capitol Theater is part of this fall tour you are about to head out on. What are you looking forward to the most in the coming months? Any just-for-fun stops you’re excited about?
I think myself and all of us, we are psyched to be getting back on tour. Every day, all day, it’s about the music.
This fall tour essentially starts with two night of Red Rocks here in Colorado. The first one is already sold out, which is pretty amazing. Just playing two nights of Red Rocks is amazing. It’s a really special place and it’s also really big, but you know I’m excited to start there then carrying that momentum across the country. Pretty amazing way to start fall tour.
How did you come to play the dobro? What about that instrument helps express how you want to express musically?
For me it’s like the electric guitar of acoustic music, for lack of a better word. It’s an acoustic instrument, but because of the slide that you play with and the way it’s built with the resonator cone inside of the instrument you can sustain long notes that most acoustic instruments don’t really have, besides maybe a fiddle. So, for me that’s what really drew me to it; it’s a bluegrass instrument but it somehow has a rock ‘n’ roll side to it.
It does get pretty gritty the way that you play it. You come out on some really awesome riffs that exceed the expectations of an acoustic sound.
I always tried to sound like myself, I think that is the best anyone can do, try to be unique and that has always been my goal. I and mostly everyone in the band, under their respective instruments, try to use a lot of guitar effects and things like that, things you typically wouldn’t associate with bluegrass music to bring out that rock ‘n’ roll side of it. I think the way I play the dobro doesn’t sound like anybody else. That is a really conscious decision that we all worked on with our instruments, its nice to hear you say that.
As an all acoustic band do you pride yourself on being able to fill these massive venues with a large and powerful sound?
Hell yeah! We worked a long time on it. It’s sort of been this weird little brain child of ours, creating a big huge sound where you can play in big rooms and it still sounds like pristine, acoustic music. It has always been this vision; bluegrass is cool and the instruments are cool but let’s take those instruments and figure out a way to make a rock band with them. At times the guitar will sound like a perfect guitar. Other times it will sound like some crazy tweaked out sound. We always believed you can’t just go and turn bluegrass into rock and roll, without being able to do bluegrass first. You have to understand where it all begins and the roots of it, once you do then you can do whatever the hell you want
I know your last album came out September 2016 and I read a couple interviews where you guys mentioned you were working on something new. Are there any upcoming albums or projects that you can spill the beans on?
Yeah, we’re getting there. The best I can say is we are getting closer. I think the plan is sometime next year, might hopefully be early next year. Most of the work is done.
As you make more albums, you start to become more popular, for lack of a better description. We’re allowed to be put a little more time into these albums. More people are going to listen to them, so it is kind of a little nerve-racking on some level. But it is also exciting. We are really trying to take our time. The way we are mixing it, we pride ourselves on making it interesting, unique, weird, albums. Sometimes that takes a little bit of time. But we are really excited about everything that has happened so far. I think it’s going to translate really well. I don’t know that exact timeline yet, but it’s coming.
I can imagine fans prefer you to take your time to make something great, rather than rush out something you don’t even love yourself.
Agreed. We got great song writers in the band. It’s like we have two bands, the live band and the studio band. I think we are really good at both, but we have to shift time for both things. We have to take this big breath and create something unique. With the live show, you play the show, create jams, it’s a one-time thing and you leave It there. With an album, that is going to be there forever.