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Greensky Bluegrass back in town with new music, appreciation

Fans who can’t wait to see Greensky Bluegrass on stage Wednesday evening at Ting Pavilion will be pleased to know that the band looks forward to seeing them, too.

The band — featuring Anders Beck on dobro, Michael Arlen Bont on banjo, Dave Bruzza on guitar, Mike Devol on upright bass and Paul Hoffman on mandolin — is enjoying touring again after pandemic-related shutdowns of performance venues kept the musicians at a distance from their fans.

Gathering in person again to share the band’s eighth studio album, “Stress Dreams,” has been a joy, Bruzza said.

“It’s great to see people buying tickets again,” Bruzza said. “I think people love [‘Stress Dreams’]. They know the words of the songs.”

Keeping the music going during the pandemic pause gave Greensky Bluegrass a chance to shake things up a bit. While the musicians remained devoted to bluegrass and string-band traditions and open to rock, pop and other freshening influences, they made the most of having to take different paths to create their music.

“Looking back on it now, I was kind of thankful for a break,” Bruzza said. While band members sheltered in place in their different hometowns, they worked on individual compositions and updated each other with voice notes and emails.

Devol was particularly productive, Bruzza said, writing what became the title track for the new album and other “incredible songs.”

“Mike is an incredible musician,” Bruzza said. “It was fun for me to hear what he would write and send to me.”

As for Bruzza’s creative process, “I became more conscious of recording everything I did,” he said. He learned how to record what he’d written in the moment, “instead of just writing something down and saying, ‘I can do this later.’”

By July 2020, it was safe to head back to the studio together, and members were able to record a session in Guilford, Vermont, and two others in Asheville, North Carolina with producer and friend Dominic John Davis and engineer Glenn Brown.

“It felt great,” Bruzza said of the July 2020 recording reunion time. “We’ve become a family over the past 22 years.”

Having the luxury of time in the studio without rushing away for gigs or other responsibilities was a treat, Bruzza said. And picking right up with each other after months apart was a gift.

“It’s nice to have that kind of chemistry,” Bruzza said of the band, which formed in 2000 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. “It’s a good unit. Three of us have been playing together for 22 years now. We listen to each other. We support each other.”

Bruzza said the band has been looking forward to returning to Charlottesville.

“It has been a while since we’ve been to Charlottesville,” he said. “We’re excited. It’s a great place.”

The Wood Brothers also will be on Wednesday’s bill at Ting Pavilion; listen for Colorado-bred brothers Chris Wood on upright bass and vocals and Oliver Wood on guitars and vocals sharing a trademark mix of folk, blues, gospel and jazz elements. Recent recordings have included “One Drop of Truth” in 2018 and “Kingdom in My Mind” in early 2020.

Bruzza said to keep an ear out for possible collaborations, which he called “a safe bet.”

“I’m sure we’ll be cross-pollinating,” Bruzza said.


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