When I tell you this is nu-grass by way of traditional virtuosity, imbued with a jammer's aesthetics and progressive-minded extensions, you might wonder "Hm, just how boundary breaking are we talking here?" Well, Greensky Bluegrass imports Townes van Zant's folky ways (White Freight Liner Blues) before heading over to Dylan's joint (When I Paint my Masterpiece) by way of dropping by Bruce Hornsby's backyard to cover King of the Hill, then cutting loose their instrumental heelkicker, Dry County sliding into Pink Floyd's Time / Breathe (Reprise). Oh, and I forgot: they dig into the Beatles' A Day in the Life as well. Progressive enough for ya? Well, it ain't Electric Light Orchestra, JimBob, 'cause these boys stay true to the base form and sure as hell set fire after fire in their repertoire.
For 2-1/2 hours, the band tears it up acoustically, documenting two full sets and an end-of-the-day encore to a very enthusiastic crowd that can't get enough. Small wonder: ya gotta mainline caffeine and meth to keep up with these finger-twisting pickers. Hey Phish, String Cheese Incident, Grateful Dead, sit down a minute, an hour, and tilt an ear, lads, 'cause these new alley cats are a triple threat, gah-roan-teed! Like the Dead, rarely has the genre been so well preserved while injecting a whole new horizon. That, I think, is going to prove to be the band's ace card, this marrow deep residence in taproots reaching to the skies.
Most of the songs are the ensemble's own, then they re-hammer the aforementioned covers to glide right into the same groove. Doesn't matter whether it's a ballad like their Nine Days or the adrenalined amp-up on Van Zant's White Freighter, everything sounds of an inspired piece. Of course, Townes would have cause to wonder how the hell they got Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin to sit in on banjo, mando, and them there other strings, what with the blinding speed and all, but, no, t'ain't them knucklebusting progrockers at all, but rather just the Greensky boys, who back down from no man—picker, strummer, or pyrotechnician.
Dave, the honcho here at FAME, had his ears pinned back by these barnburners, and I'm sometimes asked why I transmigrated from mags like Progression and Signal to Noise (as well as websites like Perfect Sound Forever), forsaking my prog / avant-garde / neoclassical ways, but, heh!, just listen to this fivesome, and the question will fall dead in your throat. Then gander at the song listings and note some of those elongated times. Hoo-ha! As the promo lit rightly claims, this ain't your grandfather's bluegrass, Hezekiah Jetson, it's a whole 'nother beast. Start with the 13:00 Train Junkie if you want to be knocked breathless.
The label, by the way, only printed up 1000 of this whirlwind limited edition set, so I wouldn't wait too long on laying claim to one, otherwise you might have to brush back a tear as a buddy tells you what a tour de force it is, waving the gem in front of your pining face.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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