I’ve been putting this off for a while now, contemplating… struggling to find the words. You see, it’s difficult to describe the unique individual impact that music has upon one’s emotional and psychological responses. It’s difficult to explain the neurological reactions that are happening as your brain attempts to interpret the complex string of notes flying out of five musical instruments at one time. It’s difficult to communicate the feeling of euphoria or the feeling of being lost in a place in time. There are only a handful of artists or collection of musicians that invoke that feeling for me. But Greensky Bluegrass is undoubtedly one of them.
I always wondered if I’d ever get to that point with a certain band where you feel like you’ve exhausted the entire English language. Or at least exhausted those reoccurring words that always seem to sneak their way into your analysis; Mind-blowing, unbelievable, and incredible. The list goes on. It gets to a point where there is really nothing left to say. How many different ways can you portray the idea that here you have a group of musicians who might very well create one of your consistently favorite live music experiences in the world. And how do you quantify the reasons for that or explain to other people why?
Michael Erlewine is an astrologist, journalist and writer from the great state of Michigan. I remember reading this piece of his about the Ann Arbor Blues Festivals in the late 1960’s. In this body of work he included rare and intimate pictures and interviews with some of the greatest blues musicians to have ever walked the planet… Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Howlin’ Wolf to name a few. There was a portion of text that really stuck with me. In it, Erlewine spoke about the masters…guys like Muddy and Wolf…and their ability to alter your perception of time. He implied that these musicians actually had the ability to stretch time, to slow it down, and to even create it. It was a challenge to the entire theory of time and the mind’s ability to ignore the ‘rules’ that govern that theory.
I think this idea has a lot to do with our individual perception of live music. What is happening to you as your brain attempts to analyze those sounds? Do you become so fully immersed and enraptured with that music that time itself begins to lose all relativity? There’s a profound connection that we humans form with music. Each person reacts differently to each individual musical experience. But when the limitations of time itself suddenly disappear, you will know it. When the boundaries of time are suddenly bent and the concept of a second, minute, or hour become meaningless, you will understand. This is when the true live music experience will take hold of you. This is what it’s like when I see Greensky Bluegrass.