Mike Devol joined Greensky Bluegrass as a part-time diversion.
The Akron, Ohio, native and bassist was studying classical cello at Western Michigan University and “was looking to gain experience in the other side of music” when he joined the bluegrass outfit in 2004. But the dalliance “gradually” became a full-time pursuit, to the point where the Kalamazoo-based quintet is a significant player on the national scene, a regular at all the prominent festivals and a headliner on the touring circuit.
“We all had the intention of taking it as far as it would take us,” says Devol, 30. “I didn’t know how far that would be or how long that would be or how it would work. There was no way of foreseeing it.
“So I guess this is just what we were hoping for, but we couldn’t know it would happen back then.”
This year Greensky Bluegrass released a new album, “Handguns,” which came out in October on the group’s own Big Blue Zoo label. Big Blue Zoo also releases a live album series called “All Access.” “Handguns” is the group’s first studio effort in three years, and Devol says the band’s deliberate approach to the recording was different from the aesthetic of its live performances.
“We all take a lot of pride in our songs,” Devol explains. “We all feel like a band can only be so great if you don’t have amazing songs. You can be amazing pickers and make great jams, but a great song is a great song, so that was important.
“The real Greensky experience is the live show, I think, but the studio gives us a way to do things differently with the mixing and the microphones and the effects and things. We see the studio process as a separate work of art than the live show, but we also try to find that balance of taking the Greensky sound and making it translate to the studio album process as well as the live stage.”
Greensky Bluegrass and the Macpodz perform Friday and Saturday, Dec. 30-31, at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 248-377-8300 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.
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