Greensky Bluegrass plays Snowmass Mammoth Fest on Saturday, June 13
If You Go …
What: Greensky Bluegrass at Snowmass Mammoth Fest
Where: Snowmass Town Park
When: Saturday, June 13, 8 p.m.
Mike Devol began his musical career as a cellist. But the leap from the Greensky Bluegrass bassist’s classical music background to the free-form approach of his band isn’t as far as one might assume.
“It’s chamber music if you strip away the cultural relevance of it all,” he said of Greensky, which headlines the Snowmass Mammoth Fest on Saturday. “It’s all of us sitting around playing strings with no conductor. They both do the same thing to create their structures.”
All of the band’s members were relative latecomers to the instruments they play in Greensky, which may have informed the way they use bluegrass as a jumping-off point for genre-bending musical explorations. Singer and mandolin player Paul Hoffman came out of rock music and first picked up a mandolin at 18, for instance. Anders Beck had been trying – and mostly failing – to be a guitar flat-picker when he stepped into a dobro workshop at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and found his calling.
Formed in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2000, the band released its debut record in 2004 and got its first big break two years later when it won the 2006 Band Competition at Telluride, which earned Greensky a coveted spot on the festival’s main stage in 2007. Since then, they’ve taken a road warrior approach, regularly playing 150-plus gigs a year.
Greensky has released eight albums to date, including last year’s “If Sorrow Swims,” which cracked the Billboard 200 and hit No. 1 on the bluegrass chart, but the band’s natural habitat is on stage where the drummer-less quartet’s tightly crafted songs can spiral into frenetic jams.
They’re regulars in Aspen and across Colorado, where they have a loyal fanbase. This summer, along with this weekend’s set at Mammoth Fest, they’re returning to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and will play Red Rocks Ampitheatre with Yonder Mountain String Band in August. Greensky played three shows in their home base of Kalamazoo, Michigan, to warm up for a busy summer festival season.
Since their contest win in Telluride nine years ago, Greensky has made Colorado its musical home (and for three of its band members, who now live in Denver, a literal home).
“Colorado was the first place to really take off for us,” said Devol. “We have fans there that have become friends and become our community. … I feel like, after awhile, the music of our band and bands like us – the Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain – goes hand in hand with the lifestyle in Colorado.”
Greensky Bluegrass will play tonight after a full day of live music at Mammoth Fest, which opens with a Chili Grand Tasting on the Snowmass Village Mall at noon before the action moves to Snowmass Town Park, where Tallgrass (2 p.m.), The National Parks (3:30 p.m.), Jamestown Revival (5 p.m.) and The Lone Bellow (6:30 p.m.) will precede Greensky’s 8 p.m. headlining set. The Beer Grand Tasting runs from 2 to 5 p.m.
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