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Greensky Bluegrass aims to hone progressive bluegrass in Columbus

Greensky Bluegrass falls outside of the realm of traditional bluegrass.

The band writes most of its own music, banjo player Mike Bont said, and its sound has developed into something much more than the typical bluegrass experience.

“It’s kind of an eclectic mix, and obviously, we’re playing bluegrass instruments, but that’s where things differentiate from there,” Bont said. “We draw a lot from Americana and folk music and rock ‘n’ roll and blues and funk and jazz, so there’s a lot more than just bluegrass going on, but at the same time, we can still play some dang-good bluegrass.”

Greensky Bluegrass is set to perform Thursday at Woodlands Tavern in Columbus. The band’s own brand of bluegrass, alongside extensive touring in recent years has made it a popular act.

Since its beginning in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2000, Greensky Bluegrass has come far.

“It’s been almost 14 years,” Bont said. “We started out really just playing the traditional bluegrass band and eventually started to incorporate our influences that weren’t so directly bluegrass, and I think that’s kind of evolved our music a lot.”

Their most recent album, “Handguns,” released in 2011, debuted at No. 3 on Billboard’s bluegrass albums chart.

“It’s been received very, very well,” Bont said. “It’s more on the progressive side compared to our previous albums, and there’s a lot more of the songwriting and the studio experience.”

First-year psychology and neuroscience major Nicholas Motz said Greensky Bluegrass has an element of dance in its music.

“It sounds like raindrops the way the notes fall. It makes you want to dance to it or tap your foot,” Motz said.

Woodlands Tavern Productions Booking Manager Paul Painter said Greensky Bluegrass provides listeners a different experience.

“(Greensky Bluegrass) pushes the boundaries of bluegrass, melding the old style into something new and futuristic,” Painter said in an email. “This is jam-grass at its finest, and (Greensky Bluegrass) are a fine bunch of musicians.”

John Jackson, a second-year in computer science and engineering, said the band’s interpretation of bluegrass music gives it a distinctive sound.

“They have a progressive sound which is really cool. There’s definitely all types of bluegrass like definitely the stuff you’ve heard before which is like old and kind of twangy but there’s like a lot more progressive stuff you hear sometimes in movies now and I think that they’re getting that pretty well,” Jackson said.

As Greensky Bluegrass continues to grow and evolve as a band, Bont expressed his vision for the band’s future.

“Things I see directly in the future is the release of our studio album sometime this year,” he said. “And just playing more shows and meeting new people and making new fans. That’s kind of what it’s all about.”

Woodlands Tavern is located at 1200 W. Third Ave. The show is open to anyone 18 and older with tickets costing $15 in advance, $18 day of show. Doors are set to open at 7 p.m. Tumbleweed Wanderers is slated to perform as an opening act.

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