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Greensky Bluegrass Headline PlayStation Theater Friday and Saturday

January 24th, 2018

We’re in another golden age of string bands: traditional, progressive, genre-smashing, fleet-fingered, young, old, awesome. In that vanguard is the Michigan-bred Greensky Bluegrass, who formed in 2000, broke out in 2006 after winning the Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition and have spent much of the last decade shoring up a national fan base adoring of their ridiculously fun live shows. They’ve won their success the old-fashioned way—town by town, venue by venue, fan by fan. In New York City, especially, they’ve graduated to larger venues almost every year and are now fit enough to headline PlayStation Theater in Times Square for two weekend nights, this Friday and Saturday. By all accounts 2017 was another watershed year for the fivesome, for the first time selling out Red Rocks, outside Denver, and continuing to tour behind their best album to date, 2016’s Shouted, Written Down & Quoted (stream it below). Anders Beck (dobro), Mike Devol (upright bass), Paul Hoffman (mandolin), Dave Bruzza (guitar) and Michael Arlen Bont (banjo) collaborate with a level of simpatico obvious before they even pluck a note. They’ve created a formidable body of work by adhering to bluegrass, roots and string-band traditions while comfortably subverting them with no small amount of rock and roll mojo. “We just speak the same language, and it’s been that way since I started in the band,” Beck told JamBase last September. “A lot of it is how we all came to music. We weren’t raised bluegrass players.” What you’re guaranteed is a varied set list, from Greensky originals like “Living Over” (above, live) and “Wings for Wheels” to songs by everyone from Bruce Springsteen and the Grateful Dead to Peter Tosh and traditional railroad tunes like “Reuben’s Train.” They hold it all together with staggering improvisational chops tight as a constrictor knot but aggressively energetic. Don’t be surprised if you’re still dancing three hours later. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

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