Greensky Bluegrass ending the year on a high note

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Greensky Bluegrass is wrapping up its 15th year feeling accomplished — and filled with anticipation for the coming year.

“This has been a really great year for us,” banjoist Michael Bont says by phone from the rootsy quintet’s home base of Kalamazoo. “A lot of the goals we’ve been setting for ourselves over the years finally started to come to fruition over the past year. We’re really starting to gain a great fan base and playing great festivals and a lot of things like that.”

Greensky Bluegrass also scored its first headlining show next July at the prestigious Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside Denver, a kind of holy ground for any act, but particularly for those from the Americana scene. “That’s a huge milestone for anyone who plays music, to be able to say they’re playing their own show at Red Rocks,” Bont, 39, notes.

Greensky Bluegrass’ following, meanwhile, has grown to include fans who travel alongside the band and attend multiple shows every year — not unlike the Grateful Dead’s Deadheads. The Greensky fans call themselves Campers after a Facebook group called Camp Greensky, and Bont says that’s become another mark of the group’s progress.

“I was a big fan in my younger years of going to see the Grateful Dead and Phish and spend my summer vacation going to see them in different places, so I understand why people travel for music,” he says. “But never in a million years would I have expected it to happen to my band.

“I think it’s pretty awesome that we have the people who come to see us all the time. And I get to see people I’ve developed friendships with over the years out there in the crowd, which is pretty great.”

Bont and company already have a full load of shows on tap for 2016, while a follow-up to 2014’s “If Sorrows Swim” album is also on the docket — “If all things go well,” Bont says. “We’ve been working on some new material, putting some stuff together, but there’s nothing 100 percent yet. We tend to take a few years between (albums), and I doubt that’ll change this time.”

Story by Gary Graff, ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com

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