After sell a three night run to Amphitheater of the Red Rocks last summer, jamgrass quintet Green bluegrass will return to the Mission Ballroom for a two night run Friday January 7 and Saturday January 8. The group will take advantage of the show to debut the songs from their latest album, Stress dreams, scheduled for release on Friday January 21.
Dobro player Anders Beck says he is more than excited to perform in Denver again, a city he considers a home away from home as well as “the live music capital of the United States.” Beck, who currently lives in Nashville, recalls how the group got started in Colorado, earning a spot at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2006 and by giving shows in places such as the Ogden Theater, Cervantes’ masterpiece ballroom and the Bluebird Theater. Two of the band members currently reside in Denver.
“There isn’t another city in the country where our group’s growth has been so extreme,” says Beck. “Going from small clubs to three nights at the Red Rocks is just a testament to the Denver music scene. So every time we play in Denver it’s really special to me and the whole band. The mission is kind of like our winter half of Red Rocks. ”
Beck lived in Denver during the construction of the Mission Ballroom, and the group performed there shortly after it opened. Now he’ll be back on stage, sharing songs from the new album that the musicians had never performed live before.
Stress dreams is the result of nearly two years of work. “We were planning on doing a new album before COVID hit, which threw a huge wrench in everything,” Beck recalls. “There were no more shows, no more live music; the shows were canceled indefinitely. We didn’t know if we would have a place to record and make an album. So we ended up with more questions than answers. than ever.
“Everyone is stuck at home for months without expecting it, and people are starting to write a lot more,” he continues. “Without trying to be, the content of this album has become a lot more about isolation and the things that are removed.”
The band met in Winter Park to work on the album in August 2020, and the first recording session was held the following month in Vermont. “We took over the studio because we couldn’t have contact with anyone,” says Beck. “We were scared of COVID, the people in the studio were scared of COVID, so they basically handed us the keys and said, ‘We will drop the food service at the door twice a day and see you at the end . “… It was just isolated us there.”
The musicians spent two weeks recording in Vermont before heading to Asheville, NC, where they did two weeklong sessions in March 2021. The album was mastered and produced by the engineer at Greensky, Glenn Brown, who comes from won a Grammy with Billy Cordes, and Dominique davis, who plays bass for Jack White.
“We ended up having more songs than we needed and more time than ever before,” says Beck. “Due to the uncertainty in the world, we have to keep working on this stuff. What makes this album unique is the time it was made. I wonder if in twenty years – if people still listen to the music my friends and I make – so there will be a real understanding of what happened musically during times of COVID. Creative juices – not just for Greensky, but across the world – were really on the move. ”
Because the musicians had a lot more time and material to work on than in the past, Beck says the album helped the group grow. But that’s also how he sees each album. “Every time we do a new album, it feels bigger, tighter – an evolution of the band musically,” he explains. “By nature, we continue to grow.”
This is the first album which contains a song that Beck wrote himself: “Monument”. He had the chorus in his mind for a long time, he says, but when the pandemic hit the words took on new meaning and the song developed from there:
You can build a castle that collapses into a cave / It’s funny how a monument looks like a grave / You don’t know what you’re holding when it’s there in your hand.
“Once COVID hit, the song just got louder; everything was ripped off, ”he says. “Here we are, this group that felt kind of on top of the world, and then it was like everything you had planned had been gone.”
Bassist Mike Duvall also wrote his first song, the album’s title track. “It’s a really cool opus track from the album that ties into the whole quarantine feeling,” Beck says. “Bluegrass is seen as a love and happiness story, but that’s not where everyone is right now. ‘Stress Dreams’ seems a little more to the point.”
The band tried to balance the moody lyrics with hopeful and cheerful sounds familiar to Greensky Bluegrass. “We wanted to write the music making it clear that we will all come back eventually,” Beck said. “A lot of the songs are more explicit about where we are at in our lives, but it’s the Greensky way.”
He adds: “It’s always interesting to bring new material from the albums into the shows, because we always improvise, but we created these precise album versions of a song, and we play them at the beginning like them. are on the album, so we start there and then they develop over time into more of Greensky’s live songs.
“I’m really excited that people are hearing the whole album,” Beck continues. “It’s a big evolution of the sound of the Greensky album. The textures are just everywhere, and as we get older we continue to learn how to create the music in our heads. That’s what it’s all about. for us.”
Greensky Bluegrass is known to attract real musicians to appearances at its shows. Beck suggests that Mission shows may have surprises, “but they’re surprises, so I can’t tell you what they are!” He says the group also hopes to raise some sort of profit to help victims of the recent Marshall fire.
But above all, Beck is just happy to come back and play here. “Denver fans are really, really, really big music fans,” he concludes, “so it makes me so excited to play music there.”
Green bluegrass, 8 p.m. Friday January 7 and Saturday January 8 at Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop Street; tickets are $ 39.95 to $ 85. Stress dreams will be available to stream on all platforms on Wednesday, January 19.