Last Saturday night saw the return of Michigan jamgrass legends to the Magic Bag. MCB's Andrew Bender was there - read on for his take on the evening and a few photos from the night
I've been seeing Greensky Bluegrass for a couple of years and they continue to push the conceptual boundaries of bluegrass music. Truly, despite their name and instrumentation, Greensky's rock and roll influences are wholly manifest in their song selection and penchant for psychedelic improvisation. One clear signal of that has been in the ever expanding array of effects pedals at the feet of dobro player Anders Beck, 6-string guitar player Dave Bruzza, and mandolin player Paul Hoffman.
Saturday marked their first date playing Michigan after three weeks of touring, and Ferndale's biggest music venue, the Magic Bag has become a home on the eastern end of the state for the Kalamazoo-based band. It also helped that the hippie freaks from K-zoo had made the trek out to our corner of the mitten and were celebrating their own hippie prom that night at the show.
Following a 45-minute opening set by Michigan-based trio Northern Skies, the audience roared it's enthusiastic approval when Greensky took the stage and opened up the first of two sets with 'Tied Down to Michigan.' And it's a good thing that the band started out with a familiar tune, because throughout the night, intermixed with old favorites like 'The Reverend' were plenty of new originals and covers. In fact, the bust-out cover of the night came in the form of 'City With No Children' from The Arcade Fire's Grammy AwardTM winning album The Suburbs. For Greensky's first live performance of the song, it was pretty spectacular, but I could see plenty of audience members scratching their heads at the unfamiliar tune as Hoffman impressively belted out the lead vocals. Once again, Greensky Bluegrass brought a truly fun night of music to the Bag - as they get more and more exposure, they could start playing to larger venues, but to paraphrase Hoffman, why go anywhere else when you're already home?