Greensky Bluegrass recently released a live album from a November 2009 performance called “All Access: Volume One.” The band plays at 9 p.m. today at Ghost Ranch Saloon. Tickets are $10.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Nabatiyeh, Lebanon Tuesday morning over breakfast, Paul Hoffman decided that Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” might make a great bluegrass tune.
Throughout the past few days, the mandolin player for Michigan-based Greensky Bluegrass has been tinkering with the song, syncopating its beats and transposing it into a new genre.
If he and his band play the song tonight at Ghost Ranch Saloon, it might be etched into music history.
“For us, the live experience is more exploratory musically,” Hoffman said. “The songs are longer, and we’ve always had a playful touch by picking covers that are abstract and unusual.
“Our goal is to kind of archive (live shows) digitally so people can download them.”
The band is one of many touring jam acts that allows audio taping of its shows, but the group took it a step further by starting a series of live album releases earlier this summer.
“All Access: Volume One,” documents a full live show from November 2009, and it’s remastered and mixed for higher quality. Hoffman said there are fewer than 50 copies left of the limited edition album.
“We’re trying to remove ourselves from the process and just play the show and release it for people to hear,” he said. “Maybe a couple times throughout the night my mandolin went out of tune, but it’s just sort of about the experience and the energy behind the show.
“There’s kind of a freedom in knowing you played it, and people are going to hear it, and that’s the way it is, and you can’t change it.”
Tonight’s show will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.
Greensky Bluegrass is a five-piece acoustic outfit comprising Hoffman on mandolin, Anders Beck on dobro, Michael Arlen Bont on banjo, Dave Bruzza on guitar and Mike Devol on upright bass.
Born from bluegrass jams in their basements in Kalamazoo, Mich., the band is celebrating 10 years together this year.
But life has changed for the musicians, Hoffman said. To start, none of the band members are playing their first instrument. They all picked up something new and learned together.
“We were just reminiscing the other night,” Hoffman said. “It seemed like we had so much time to just sit around and play music and learn songs. The motives were so different back then because we were learning bluegrass and learning our instruments.”
Since winning the Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition in 2006, they’ve been touring nonstop and playing more than 150 shows a year.
Their van has taken them all across the country, but they’re no strangers to Colorado mountain towns and a fan base jumpstarted by their appearance at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
“It’s probably one of our favorite places to play in the entire country,” Hoffman said. “It’s amazing in these mountain towns and how many people come out to support music. The capacity for having fun in Colorado is so much higher than everywhere else.”