No strings attached to Greensky Bluegrass

Staff reports

For more than a decade and a half, the members of Greensky Bluegrass have created their own version of bluegrass music, mixing the acoustic stomp of a stringband with the rule-breaking spirit of rock & roll. They redefine that sound once again with their sixth album, "Shouted, Written Down & Quoted." Greensky Bluegrass will be playing from it Thursday, Sept. 29 at Pisgah Brewing Co.

Playing as many as 175 shows per year, Greensky Bluegrass has graduated to headlining status at some of the country's most iconic venues.

Like the band's own name, "Shouted, Written Down & Quoted" is a collection of opposites, full of dark psychedelic swirls, bright bursts of acoustic guitar, soundscapes, solos and freethinking improvisation. The album shows off the diversity that Greensky Bluegrass brings to its live shows.

At the same time, "Shouted, Written Down & Quoted" is unmistakably a studio album, recorded during two different sessions — one at Echo Mountain Studio in Asheville, the other at the Mountain House Recording Studio in Nedarland, Colorado — that comprise the band's longest block of recording time ever.

"You can call us an acoustic ensemble, or a drum-less rock band, or a rock & roll bluegrass band," said mandolin player Paul Hoffman, who, along with guitarist Dave Bruzza, handles most of the album's writing duties. "All of that shifting identity has taught us to cover a lot of ground. There's a flow to this album, just like there's a flow to our set lists. There are some aggressive, rocking moments. Some bouncy, funky moments. An acoustic think piece or two. It's a balance of moods and textures that we create as a band, almost like a mix tape."

Formed in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Greensky Bluegrass kicked off its career playing living rooms and open mic nights across the Midwest. By 2005, it was touring nationally, and by 2006, it was playing the first in a long series of appearances at the annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Bandmates Hoffman, Bruzza, dobro player Anders Beck, banjoist Michael Arlen Bont, and upright bassist Mike Devol spent most of the following decade on the road, fine-tuning a live show modeled not after the toned-down production of traditional bluegrass music, but the full-on spectacle of rock.

"We play two sets of music every night with a big light show, and really care about creating a large scale production," Bruzza said, adding that "the goal isn't just to play important music. We want to cultivate an experience, where people can escape from their everyday lives for a minute and put their worries aside."

More than a string band

Who: Greensky Bluegrass, with The Larry Keel Experience

When: 7 p.m., Sept. 29

Where: Pisgah Brewing Co.

Cost: $25 advance, $30 day of show