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K-zoo's Greensky Bluegrass ready to ring in 2015 in Royal Oak

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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It would be fair to say it's been a good year for Greensky Bluegrass.

And it would be fair to say that's an understatement, too.

The quintet from Kalamazoo had what mandolinist and co-founder Paul Hoffman justifiably calls "a great year," which included its first No. 1 album on Billboard's Bluegrass chart with "If Sorrows Swim," which was released in September. The group also played some major festivals around the country, branching beyond its genre to play at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee as well as Outside Lands in San Francisco -- in addition to its own two-night stand at the prestigious Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco.

"We've been playing bigger venues and seeing more people in the venues, and people are more excited to see us," says Hoffman, 33. "I think we're lucky that we've had a pretty steady growth pattern over all the years. It's been a slow climb, sort of, but every time we play a city it's a little better than last time. Sometimes a lot bigger.

"So that's encouraging."

The response for "If Sorrows Swim" has also been gratifying to Hoffman and his bandmates since they stretched beyond traditional bluegrass conventions to include elements of rock, soul and jazz along with different arrangement approaches. "We're always trying to find new sounds and things we can twist and experiment with and find things people wouldn't expect us to do," Hoffman says, though he acknowledges that "sometimes it might be easier" if the group did stick to a more conventional path.

"Bluegrass music is one of those genres that's discussed a lot about the way it's supposed to be done and the way people expect it to be done," Hoffman explains. "People will be shocked that we use profanity or something like that, but for the most part I think they get it. If we're less of a bluegrass band than they expected to see, we're more of something else that they also like.

"So even if we surprise them, usually they think it's a successful surprise, which is cool, too."

Greensky Bluegrass and Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers

Wednesday, Dec. 31. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.

Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 day of show.

Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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