Blue skies ahead for Greensky Bluegrass

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First Posted: 1/27/2014

The last time The Weekender talked with Greensky Bluegrass, it was 2010 and the string band was relatively new to our area and coming to town for a show at the intimate Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe. Needless to say, a lot has happened with the band in the ensuing four years.

They’ve gained a substantial following on the West Coast, played almost every festival out there – including an appearance at last year’s Peach Festival – and have found themselves coming back to the East Coast more often due to increasingly larger crowds.

In a recent phone conversation during a touring break, guitarist Dave Bruzza brought us up to date on the continuing evolution of the band and discussed everything from their new album to their upcoming show on Friday at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, even chatting about some bluegrass boys from our area.

THE WEEKENDER: Earlier in the summer, you guys had the chance to play the Red Rocks in Morrison, Colo. How was the experience of playing such a legendary venue?

DAVE BRUZZA: It was pretty stimulating and really fun. It was really peculiar weather all day; rain was coming in and out. It was pretty fantastic though. We’ve had a lot of experiences on different stages, but that one was pretty overwhelming and fantastic.

W: The band has finished recording the new album, “If Sorrows Swim.” I heard you guys were recording with the original console Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded “Free Bird” on. How did the band come across that relic?

DB: Glenn Brown is the engineer who owns it, and he has the console that was at Muscle Shoals Studio down in Alabama. It wasn’t just Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was used by artists like The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan; everyone used that console. It’s got a great sound to it; those old means, you just don’t see them every day. Working with a guy like Glenn Brown, who’s just fantastic and one of my favorite people to work with – he’s worked with everyone from Spinal Tap to Frank Sinatra, so it’s just really cool.

W: When can we expect to hear the album, and were there any difficulties in recording it while being constantly on the road?

DB: We’re really just looking for the right time to put it out there at this point. … We did most of the recording last January, and we did most of the work from the road – everyone’s got an iPhone, so it’s pretty easy to hear stuff and communicate ideas about making the record. It’s not just going into a studio and recording music. It’s going into a studio, recording music, thinking about it, making changes, and mixing it. There’s a lot involved.

W: When you guys are on the road, it seems like there are more East Coast dates than years before. Have you been seeing your East Coast fan base grow lately?

DB: The East Coast was definitely one of the harder areas for us. We’re not as well-known on the East Coast as we are in the rest of the country; we didn’t play there a lot the last few years. For the last two years, we’ve been making more and more trips out there. It’s nice to get a fan base going. I love new fans, and I love old fans. I love anyone who enjoys our music. So it’s really exciting to know that as we get ready to go back out there.

W: I remember four years ago when you guys played the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe, which is a really small theater, and then I think about the Peach Festival this past summer where people were raving about the band’s mid-afternoon set on Sunday. It’s amazing to think what four years has done for the band in our area.

DB: It’s nice to see those things happen because we’ve been around for a little while, and it really caught fire out West. It’s really exciting for not just us, but our loyal fans we’ve had throughout the years, and our new fans. It’s really fun to see crowds grow and see people singing along to your songs.

W: What would you say to the fans about the upcoming show at the Sherman Theater?

DB: They’re going to have a great time; it’s gonna be a lot of fun. We played in that area once before, the River Street Jazz Cafe or something like that. We’re excited to get into the Sherman Theater because our friends in Railroad Earth just did their holiday shows there and they seem to play there a lot.

W: Yes, the River Street Jazz Cafe was the room. Speaking of that room and Railroad Earth and the holiday shows they had, have you crossed paths with some boys from our area named Cabinet?

DB: Definitely. They opened up for us when we played Wilkes-Barre a few years ago. They’re a great band. They actually opened up for us when we played Philadelphia last year or the year before as well. They’re a really great band.