Review, Photos & Videos: Greensky Bluegrass Closes Out 2018 Red Rocks Run With More Guests

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Images by: Jeremy Williams

Words by: Tyler Hypnarowski

Greensky Bluegrass with Turkuaz :: 9.23.18
Red Rocks :: Morrison, CO

Check out a full gallery of Jeremy’s photos after the review.

Anders Beck was nearly speechless as he and his Greensky Bluegrass band mates returned to the stage for their encore Sunday night, looking out at the thousands who filled the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and stood with their arms outstretched under the lights. The dobro player skipped his normal jovial banter and instead opted for a simple and sincere thank you on behalf of him and his four band mates. The Michigan-founded jamgrass act was about to put an exclamation point on their three-night Colorado run, when the stars aligned for one more show. Shortly after the band kicked into “Kerosene”, the high-octane tune from 2014’s If Sorrows Swim to conclude the weekend, a large shooting star streaked across the sky behind the stage eliciting a big reaction from the crowd. The mantra “Never miss a Sunday show” was no doubt in full effect.

Rewinding a few hours, the evening began with a lively set from Turkuaz, the nine-piece group that has been taking the festival and funk world by storm with their infectious energy, danceable grooves and colorful appearance. With their wardrobe as sharp as their playing, the band showed shades of their Talking Heads influences even before they nailed a cover of “Slippery People” a few songs into their set. Turkuaz also offered up a few catchy tracks off of their Life In The City album, due out this Friday, before closing with The Band’s “The Shape I’m In.” With a sound that’s so much more than just funk, just like Greensky is so much more than just bluegrass, Turkuaz provided some great energy that carried on throughout the entire night both on and off the stage.

Greensky Bluegrass would kick off their first set with the introspective and upbeat “Fixin To Ruin” before launching into “Windshield,” the emotionally-charged marquee track from their aforementioned If Sorrows Swim release. Next up was old-school-meeting-new-school as “Broken Highways” from 2006’s Tuesday Letter was followed by the recently debuted “Courage For the Road.” The new song gave the band their first chance of the night to really stretch out their playing and showcase their jamming capabilities.

After keeping the Talking Heads theme alive with a cover of “Road To Nowhere,” the Turkuaz Horns were brought out for “Miss September” and “Before Bring Out Your Dead > Bring Out Your Dead.” The latter pairing, a sequence that walks the line between grungy bluegrass and cacophony, was given an especially unique feel with the addition of two saxophones and a trumpet. A blazing version of “Run Or Die,” the modern day outlaw anthem from 2016’s Shouted, Written Down & Quoted then sent us into the setbreak.

The final set of the weekend would begin with the waltz-y “I’d Probably Kill You,” complete with a vocal shout-out to the band’s friend and musical collaborator, Billy Strings. While Billy was on tour and couldn’t make it, another gifted guitarist could, as Greensky brought out Tom Hamilton of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Ghost Light for a sweet version of “All Four.” Hamilton exchanged licks with Anders Beck and mandolin player Paul Hoffman as the song slowly built to a blissful peak. Tom stuck around for the Jerry Garcia Band repertoire favorite, Norton Buffalo’s “Ain’t No Bread in the Breadbox”.

There would be one more round of special guests in store, but not before the pairing of “Demons” and “Wings For Wheels,” played in that order just as they appear on If Sorrows Swim. The two songs did a fine job of exemplifying the diversity in the band’s sound, with the former being a bluegrass rocker and the latter featuring a slower, alt-country feel. Yet both are still definitively Greensky Bluegrass.

Two-thirds of Turkuaz then joined the band for the finale, a 22+ minute version of “Leap Year” with a cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” sandwiched in the middle. Guitarist Dave Bruzza perfectly segued the jam into the acoustic introduction of “Rocket Man” in what could now be seen as foreshadowing of the cosmic show that was just minutes away. The ending of “Leap Year” was highlighted not only by the spectacular harmony vocals provided by members of Turkuaz, but also by the vocals that echoed between the venue’s prehistoric rocks which were provided by none other than the Greensky Bluegrass faithful in attendance.

Greensky continues to push the envelope, challenging what can be done in string music, and their show at Red Rocks on Sunday night was a wonderful representation of that. There are few bands today who can jam with the cohesiveness they offer, and even fewer who do so on a foundation of such solid songs and lyrics. GSBG is on the top of their game, and with new music on the way and an ever-growing fan base, they are showing no signs of letting up anytime soon.

Photos by Jeremy Williams

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Videos | Captured by Kyle Isaac

All Four > Ain’t No Bread In The Breadbox

Miss September > Bring Out Your Dead

I’d Probably Kill You

Hit Parade Of Love

Setlist (via Camp Greensky)

Set One: Fixin To Ruin (1)(2), Windshield (3), Broken Highways, Courage for the Road, Hold On > Road to Nowhere, Hit Parade of Love, Miss September (4), Before Bring Out Your Dead (4) > Bring Out Your Dead (4), Run Or Die

Set Two: I’d Probably Kill You (5), Cryin’ Holy Unto The Lord (Rock Where Moses Stood), All Four (6) > Ain’t No Bread in the Breadbox (6), Demons, Wings For Wheels, Leap Year (7) > Rocket Man (7) > Leap Year (7)

Encore: Kerosene

  • (1) – w/ Guido Batista (woodblock)
  • (2) – w/ Keith Kinnear (woodblock)
  • (3) – Harpua tease
  • (4) – w/ Chris Brouwers, Greg Sanderson, Josh Schwartz (horns)
  • (5) – Lyric change “pretty sure Billy Strings was in there”
  • (6) – w/ Tom Hamilton
  • (7) – w/ Sammi Garett, Shira Elias, Dave Brandwein, Josh Schwartz, Chris Brouwers and Greg Sanderson

Tour Dates for
Greensky Bluegrass

Tour Dates for
Turkuaz