A fellow writer once told me that regional music is an auricular reflection of the land that birthed it; that cities breed grime and geometric edge while seaside places like Hawaii are home to sounds that sparkle and roll like waves. So when reflecting on bluegrass, we can’t help but hear in it the undulating, pullulating Mainland expanse—both its call to wilderness retreat and its push toward the horizon.
By name alone, the group Greensky Bluegrass evokes nationalistic, nostalgic imagery of earth and air. Their music, with its classic combo of dobro, banjo, guitar, upright bass and mandolin, accomplishes this tenfold. When it comes to the newgrass genre, few bands can balance feisty rock progressiveness with keeping true to endearing tradition like Greensky Bluegrass. And for their efforts, this Michigan-based quintet has, over the last 11 years, earned some rather illustrious ink.
Rolling Stone recently reviewed last fall’s famed Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (an event that’s star-laden with the likes of Robert Plant, Emmy Lou Harris and Del McCoury) and selected Greensky to convey the essence of the event, saying, “The true spirit of the festival was most embodied by a group of upstarts… Much like the festival itself, Greensky are hardly strictly bluegrass and, yet, they’re representing the genre for a whole new generation.”
Meanwhile, Montana/Wyoming’s Billings Gazette says their music’s “like a breath of mountain air” and Ohio’s Columbus Dispatch raves their “recorded work reveals that the band’s obvious chemistry is bolstered by complex melodies and layered vocals whose delicately entwined sum seems almost intrinsic.”
The band will gig this Sat. (Mar. 3) at Charley’s and patrons can expect at least two things: 1) a full house—their sound’s perfect for everyone from homesick haoles to local country kids—and 2) some surprises; as LA Bluegrass points out, “how many bands can transform Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’ into a joyous, twelve minutes of string-pickin’ jam rock?”
So make your way to the North Shore this weekend and prepare to be transported.
Sat., Mar. 3, 9:30pm, Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon (142 Hana Hwy., Paia; 579-8085); $20