It’s the dog days of winter on the way too quiet lately Telluride Forum. Since it’s the eve of what will hopefully be a great Super Bowl, I am offering up what would be for me the participants in the 2017 Bluegrass Super Bowl-The Infamous Stringdusters versus Greensky Bluegrass. Who is your favorite?
For the last year or so, its been driving me crazy, which band I like better. They are clearly my 2 favorite bluegrass bands. When I think about each of them, I come up with the following strengths:
Dusters-Amazing clarity from each instrument, “huddle jams” where 2-3 of the band members cluster together and really dial in (they can’t do enough of those in a show to satisfy me!), an interesting mix of songs and styles including their own, a broad array of traditional bluegrass songs and deep dives into the Grateful Dead songbook, a fantastic sound mix at their shows that is head and shoulders above any band I’ve listened to in recent years and a generally fun atmosphere.
Greensky-Well written songs that are beautifully played and sung, their songs tug at me emotionally both musically and lyrically like no other bluegrass band, the ability to take off collectively as a group and jam heavily for 3-4 songs in a row, covers of songs that go broadly across the rock world (I love it when they surprise us with a new one that we never would have thought we’d hear at a bluegrass show!), the fact that they come to Telluride every year now.
In head to head competition, I’ve heard these two great bands together at Telluride, Festy and Grey Fox festivals and they were in Boston last month 6 days apart. Each time, I’ve loved them both but come to a different conclusion as to who played better. Now, to totally confuse me, I’m listening to the 2 wonderful Bluegrass General shows in Denver 1/6+7/17 featuring Chris Pandolfi, Andy Hall and Paul Hoffman. My head is spinning at how great they all sound mixing the songs of the 2 bands together!
Enough of my rambling. If push came to shove, my vote would be the Dusters with a game winning field goal in overtime). Who would you pick? Or, who are the two Beatles vs. Stones type artists you can’t decide between?
I know everyone here is aware of my affinity for a certain band, but I’ll try to be as objective as is possible. To me, this is a comparison that can longer be made.
A few years ago, when I was simultaneously discovering both bands, I would have stayed up all night debating that GSBG was the superior of the two. That said, the trajectory of each band has taken a distinct path, and I think the debate has died down as a result of this and not because either band has triumphed as superior to the other.
GSBG is pioneering a new genre, and we’re lucky enough to bear witness. I’m not sure anyone who’s been to a recent show will call what they’re doing “bluegrass,” in the traditional sense. Nor is it strictly rock or jam or anything - it’s completely unique, and they are defining the scene for others to follow. What a time to be alive. I mean that.
This is not to say the Dusters are stagnant, either. I haven’t purchased the new album yet, but having seen them in December, I can say they are absolutely at the top of their game. It’s just a different game than what GSGB is playing, and that’s great.
The two are operating in completely distinct spaces right now, even with the significant amount of crossover, and as such, the debate doesn’t mean much to me anymore. But it sure is fun to talk about.
A “Greencredible Skydusters Play Bluegrass” set would win Telluride, for sure, uh huh.
No, seriously … I love Greensky more than any other band right now, and have since the '15 TBF. I would choose them over the Dusters, but I frequently listen to both, and Greensky is one of the only bands I would confidently pick over the Dusters, and it’s not because they’re better: they’re just doing different things with a similar songbook, so to speak. I think that’s something similar to what Skubes said.
Bluegrass Generals would be FIRE at TBF. I’m guessing the schedule won’t work out for the 'Dusters at Bluegrass this year, though; they’re scheduled in Oregon and in NY that weekend, so I suppose anything is possible, but that’s some serious mileage anyway
I’ll say this about that…I really love both bands :medal, but is it OK to like the vocals of the Dusters more? (Seems that PHoff sings most G songs?)
So my overtime winners are the Dusters, and I’ll also stay up all night biting, and licking with Skubes, “discussing” this topic. :festival
True enough- both great bands. But when it comes to chemistry and general awesomeness, Dusters take it. When they’re on (which seems to be always) they are like no other. A little bummed they’re not on the T-Ride lineup!
“Love both though”. Did you read that part, or were you too busy marginalizing me as a person b/c I differ in opinion. I think P-Hoff is the best songwriter out the GSBG vs. Duster conversation, but his voice just doesn’t do it for me. Sorry?