Grisman, Leslie, Hargreaves & Smith perform ‘Hemenway’

Grisman, Leslie, Hargreaves & Smith perform “Hemenway” at Second Story Garage music video studio in Boulder, Colorado.

Bluegrass emphasizes tradition. For all the proliferation of jamgrass and its variants, especially in Colorado, the old ways of bluegrass have an inherently powerful pull that keep successive players from growing too far from the roots.

But the quartet Grisman, Leslie, Hargreaves & Smith does much to expand the possibilities of a bluegrass lineup. Bluegrass songs are essentially country songs, and country songs aren’t supposed to have more than a few chords or get too complex rhythmically.

GLH&S doesn’t seem to know about these rules. Their instrumental songs, realized through Sam Grisman’s bass, Dominick Leslie’s mandolin, Alex Hargreaves’ fiddle and Nathaniel Smith’s cello (the presence of cello is the first sign that something different is happening here), take compositional risks and search for unusual sounds. Parts of their music are devoted to finding new ways to play their instruments. The spirit of GLH&S’ music is reminiscent of the Punch Brothers, and members of the two bands share a very high degree of skill.

GLH&S has released one EP, The Brotet, and though the band started as a “supergroup” side project — each of the members has an impressive performance resume — it’s poised to evolve into something bigger. When they came to the Garage, they performed “Shrimp Island Reel,” “Harkeesh, Harkash” and “Hemenway,” and they talked about the future of their collaboration in an interview with Quentin.

What they brought us: A signed cup that bears the mysterious words “Harkeesh, Harkash,” which appears to have some kind of deep meaning for the band.

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Your host

Your host Quentin Young, reporter at the Times-Call (Longmont), and Daily Camera (Boulder) respectively.

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