2019 Durango Meltdown Lineup
April 12, 13, and 14, 2019
Songs From The Road Band is a North Carolina based supergroup featuring Mark Schimick, Charles R. Humphrey III, Ryan Cavenaugh, Sam Wharton, and James Schlender. Collectively, they have received top accolades in the bluegrass, Americana, and jazz genres. The band’s fourth studio album, Road To Nowhere,is due out in the spring of 2018 and they will be touring heavily in support of the release.
Humphrey is an IBMA award & Grammy recipient. He has also garnered a spot in the NC Music Hall of Fame. Schimick has soared to the top of the progressive and jamgrass scene alongside legends Larry Keel, Vassar Clements, and Tony Rice. Cavanaugh has made his long-awaited return to bluegrass after 10 years of touring the world with jazz great Bill Evans and his Soulgrass project. He has been acknowledged by Bela Fleck as an acoustic pioneer on the 5 string banjo. The Road Band delivers a high energy show full of original material from their 4 studio albums, unmatched instrumental prowess, and creative covers!
Larry Keel is described by music critics and reviewers as the most powerful, innovative and all-out exhilarating acoustic flatpicking guitarist performing today. Keel has absorbed the best lessons from his Bluegrass family upbringing, both sides deeply steeped in the rich mountain music culture and heritage of Southwest Virginia. From there, he has always integrated that solid musical grounding and natural-born talent with his own incomparable approach to playing amplified, acoustic guitar and composing original music. He’s also got a knack for choosing interesting and appealing material from all realms of music with guts, whether it’s a tune written by a fellow song-writer/musician friend, or a surprise cover from any number of musical acts all over the map. The combination is pretty irresistible, and has earned Keel the highest respect and billing among the top acoustic and jam rock musicians alive, and some now gone: Tony Rice, Chris Thile, Steve Martin, Tim O’Brien, Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, John Hartford, Bill Monroe, Peter Rowan, and Danny Barnes to name a few.
And his fierce, high-spirited energy also appeals to young rockers, jammers and alt-country pickers and fans who are equally drawn to Keel’s blazing guitar power, the deep rumbling voice, his earthy and expansive song-writing, and his down-home-gritty-good-time charm. Keel convenes and collaborates with JamBand and Rock giants Greensky Bluegrass, Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Jorma Kaukonen, David Nelson, Little Feat, Railroad Earth, String Cheese Incident, Fruition and Leftover Salmon, amongst others. Keel has a variety of musical formats he presents throughout the year; look out for his core band The Larry Keel Experience (featuring award-winning and highly accomplished Jared Pool on mandolin and penetrating vocals, and wife Jenny Keel with her rock solid bass lines as well as tenor vocal harmonies), Larry Does Jerry (Keel performing the music for Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead), Larry and the Smokin’ J’s (featuring Jon Stickley, Jay Starling and Jared Pool), Keller Williams and the Keels, and steady swirl of pairings with Keel and Drew Emmitt, Andy Thorn, Danny Barnes, members of the Del McCoury Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, just to name a few. Of note for early 2017 is Keel’s top billing at New York’s Carnegie Hall, where he will headline along with Al Di Meola, Stefane Wrembel and Stochelo Rosenberg at the Django A Go-Go concert, celebrating Django Reinhardt’s influence on the world of guitar music. Throughout his career, Keel has released 15 albums and is featured on 10 others. The most recent release, March 2016, is EXPERIENCED, an entirely original work that showcases Larry’s and banjo virtuoso Will Lee’s exceptional songwriting, singing and jaw-dropping instrumental performances, accompanied by Keel’s equally talented wife Jenny Keel on upright bass and harmony vocals. This Americana Radio charting album exemplifies the raw sophistication of Keel’s progressive acoustic style, and features musician-friends who appear as guests on various tracks of Experienced; the artists include Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Keller Williams, Jason Carter (Del McCoury Band), Mike Guggino (Steep Canyon Rangers) and Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass). Quotes about Keel and his music from these artists themselves capture the essence of what this album and Keel’s artistry represents.
Junior Sisk and Friends
Junior Sisk is widely recognized as one of today’s top bluegrass vocalists and is a constant reminder that traditional bluegrass is still alive and well. A longtime resident of the Virginia Blue Ridge, his bluegrass pedigree runs deep. Influenced by a father who wrote songs and played guitar and a mother who sang, Sisk first learned to play around age 14. His early influences included The Stanley Brothers, Larry Sparks, and Dave Evans, but he often credits the Johnson Mountain Boys with inspiring him to pursue bluegrass professionally.
Sisk first made his mark in bluegrass as a songwriter in the early 1990s, penning classic Lonesome River Band songs like “Game (I Can’t Win)” and “Tears Are Blinding Me.” As a member of Wyatt Rice & Santa Cruz and Blueridge, he helped define the sound of driving, modern traditional bluegrass. Sisk founded Ramblers Choice in 1998, releasing Sounds of the Mountains on Rounder Records. After leaving Blueridge in 2006, he reformed Ramblers Choice and began a successful career with Rebel Records.
His 2011 album Heart of a Song helped bring the band into the spotlight and eventually was named IBMA Album of the Year in 2012. Its single “A Far Cry from Lester and Earl,” which Sisk co-wrote, became a rallying cry for a resurgence of traditional sounds in bluegrass and received the 2012 Song of the Year Award from the IBMA. Sisk was furthered honored when he was named 2013 IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year, while his band earned the 2014 SPBGMA Bluegrass Band of the Year award. In 2016, “Longneck Blues,” a collaboration with noted singer-songwriter Ronnie Bowman, was named Recorded Event of the Year by the IBMA. Most recently, Sisk received the 2017 Male Vocalist of the Year award from SPBGMA.
Sisk now records for Mountain Fever Records. His most recent album, Brand New Shade Of Blue on the Bluegrass Today charts, including the hit “Whiskey And The Guitar.” The first single from Juniors first solo project now at #2 on the charts
Eastern Kentucky native Don Rigsby discovered bluegrass music early in life, nurturing his interest through Ralph Stanley records and hanging out with two of Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys, Ricky Skaggs (who happens to be Don‘s cousin) and Keith Whitley. Soon enough, he would move on to make his own mark with his powerful tenor and distinctive mandolin playing.
Don first began to pursue a musical career while in college. He emerged on the national scene with the Bluegrass Cardinals. Subsequently he hooked up with J.D. Crowe and the New South. He has also done stints with Charlie Sizemore and Vern Gosdin and eventually became a member of the award-winning Lonesome River Band. In addition, he filled in with the Seldom Scene upon the sudden death of John Duffey, and has been involved with Longview, Rounder’s super-group comprised of top-ranked traditional bluegrass artists. The late ’90s found him releasing solo recordings and undertaking a series of “brother duo” albums with Dudley Connell.
Gene Libbea’s career in music began on the west coast in 1972 working for Walt Disney and later the New Christie Minstrels. In 1988 he joined the Nashville Bluegrass Band where he was a member for 12 years. During that time he notched five Grammy nominations and two Grammys. Simultaneously, he became an in demand session musician recording with Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Earl Scruggs, Steve Earl, Ry Cooder and Clint Black just to name a few. Today he makes his home in the Southern California mountains and is in high demand as an acoustic bass player, guitar player, and record producer.
Tim Crouch lives in Strawberry Arkansas,, Been playing fiddle and mandolin since i was 7… Grew up playing Bluegrass and Country Music… Played fiddle contest with My Dad, Fred, and My Brother, Dennis,,, Winning the Arkansas State fiddlers championship 5 times, and the National Championship 2 times, along with other contest… Got a gig with Jim and Jesse and the virginia boys at the Grand ole Opry at age 19 and played there for 3 years for Jim and Jesse, and The Whites.. Went on to record, and Perform with Many Country and Bluegrass Artist From Recording Studio’s, to Carnegie Hall, to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.
Keith Reedgrew up playing bluegrass banjo and guitar with a group of traditional bluegrass musicians from the southeast. This early immersion of bluegrass traditionalism and its inherent culture led him to pursue an AA degree from South Plains College in TX, the only school offering a bluegrass program at that time. Keith then chose to pursue his BA in classical guitar, finding the techniques and passion of classical guitar vital to his development as a musician. Touring and performing have been a constant in Keith’s musical career. Becoming a Rounder Recording artist with the band Open Road led to extensive touring to include performances at the Ryman Auditorium and the Kennedy Center, and two critically acclaimed recordings. A seasoned musician, he continues to perform with a variety of professional acoustic artists. Keith teaches bluegrass guitar, banjo, and bluegrass ensemble at Colorado College.
Like the powerful mandolinist and composer at its helm, John Reischman and the Jaybirds fashion a stylish take on bluegrass that seamlessly blends original songs and instrumentals with Appalachian old-time music for a truly unique band sound. Now in their 20th year, with seven acclaimed albums and two Juno nominations, the Jaybirds are simultaneously innovative and unadorned, sophisticated and stripped-down, happily old-fashioned and 21st-century contemporary.
Bluegrass Unlimited calls John Reischman “one of the world’s undisputed masters” of the mandolin, famed for outstanding tone and taste. Many of his dozens of original instrumentals have become popular favourites for sessions and covers, such as the jam standard Saltspring. He has three critically-acclaimed solo instrumental albums and has recorded on many other projects, including the Grammy-winning True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe. John also plays Latin-based jazz and choro music with highly regarded finger-style acoustic guitarist/composer John Miller; the duo has released three superb albums.
John began his career in the San Francisco Bay area in the early ’80s with the eclectic Good Ol’ Persons bluegrass band. He was an original member of the legendary “new acoustic” quartet, the jazz-influenced Tony Rice Unit, renowned for highly skilled instrumentals. John moved to Vancouver in the early ’90s and in 1999 formed the Jaybirds. Of their latest album, Folk Radio UK said “On That Other Green Shore showcases an accomplished, experienced band at the peak of their powers, with musicianship of the very highest order.” Peghead Nation called it “one of the most beguiling bluegrass-rooted recordings of 2017.”
Los Angeles, CA-based guitarist Patrick Sauber joined the Jaybirds in 2017. The veteran performer has played with, among others, Doc Watson, Richard Greene, John Jorgensen, Peter Rowan, Tim O’Brien and John Fogerty. He played on the 2016 Grammy-nominated album The Hazel and Alice Sessions by Laurie Lewis, and appeared in the film A Mighty Wind with Christopher Guest. Bluegrass Unlimited describes Patrick’s playing on John’s tune Daylighting the Creek as “a glorious flatpicking solo that hews back to the glory days of early bluegrass guitar.”
Chilliwack, BC-based Trisha Gagnon is portrayed by Sing Out! as “one of the most versatile” and “irresistible” lead vocalists in bluegrass, her strong and distinctive style ranging from “mournful and plaintive” to “hopeful and yearning.” Trisha anchors what Dirty Linen magazine calls “gorgeous three-part harmonies.” She’s also known for songwriting, dating back to her early days with the award-winning B.C. bluegrass band Tumbleweed. Her solo album includes guests Vince Gill and Peter Rowan.
Nanaimo, BC-based Nick Hornbuckle has developed his own voice on the five-string banjo – a two-finger roll unlike other contemporary banjo players. “Nick Hornbuckle’s banjo can be downright spine-tingling,” said the L.A Daily News. His solo album 12×2 (+/-1), was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2015, and Nick is a composer who also digs for rare old-time gems. His sprightly instrumental Wellesley Station on the new Jaybird album “showcases Nick’s sharp picking and sense of melody,” said Green Man Review.
Spokane, WA-based Greg Spatz is hailed as a “world-class bluegrass fiddler” by Fiddler Magazine. Audiophile Audition says Greg’s “virtuosic playing is flawlessly delivered time after time,” while Bluegrass Unlimited says he “lays down some seriously fine bluegrass fiddle” on the latest Jaybirds release. His strong chops have made him a popular fixture down through the years on the West Coast, where he’s played with iconic mandolinist Frank Wakefield, resophonic guitar master Rob Ickes, and many others including Laurie Lewis, Bryan Bowers, and Eli West and Cahalen Morrison. Greg also plays and records with Mighty Squirrel, has a solo album called Fiddler’s Dream and a duo recording with his wife called All Along the Sea, and is an award-winning novelist.
Richie Stearns (the Horse Flies) and Rosie Newton (the Duhks) are a dynamic duo performing music rooted in the Americana tradition. With their memorable original songs and entrancing, nostalgic harmonies, Stearns and Newton take the fiddle, banjo combination to new levels as they continue to expand the boundaries of tradition.
Richie and Rosie blend traditional and contemporary sounds, outrageous punk banjo, powerful evocative fiddle with beautiful vocal harmonies. Richie, is an innovator of 5-string banjo much loved for his “mantra-groove spooky-banjo style” Rosie is a ferocious fiddler who’s work spans many musical styles.
Steam Machine sits somewhere between the full, round, driving sounds of American old-time stringband music and the emergent showmanship of early bluegrass. With clean, powerful fiddling and rolling three finger banjo they highlight unique and beautiful Midwestern repertoire alongside tunes and songs from Appalachia. A rock-solid rhythm section and honest, unprocessed singing round out their sound. All four band members are actively involved in perpetuating roots music and dance traditions as players, teachers, and community scholars in their home communities and wherever they go. Having performed across the country and world individually, as a band they are having a lot of fun forming a style that has been called “wonderfully tasteful!” “so fine!” “a treat!” and “powerful!” by fans of the genre.
Jeff Scroggins & Colorado is a high-energy five-piece bluegrass band located in the Western Frontier state of Colorado. Their distinctive sound showcases an eclectic range of influences that marry second and third generation bluegrass, delivering a unique experience that captivates audiences and keeps them guessing: It’s a powerful, high mountain “bluegrass explosion” that features world-class banjo and mandolin playing, incredible vocals, a solid and energetic rhythm and an easy stage banter that has delighted listeners all over the world.
Fronted by internationally acclaimed two-time National Banjo Champion Jeff Scroggins, their distinct style is immediately recognizable due to Jeff’s unique and diverse range of influences, which include Alan Munde, Don Reno, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton. His fiery style and lightning-fast licks have earned him worldwide recognition and have left many a first-time listener in stunned disbelief!
The band also features the award-winning mandolin playing of Jeff’s son Tristan Scroggins. At only 23 years old, Tristan is an award-winning instrumentalist and accomplished songwriter in his own right while the instrumentals he shares with Jeff play a large role in the band’s unique and energetic style. In 2016, Tristan was nominated for the Instrumental Momentum Award by the International Bluegrass Music Association . West Virginia native Greg Blake provides powerful bluegrass vocals steeped in country heritage, bringing a truly authentic sound developed from a lifetime of singing bluegrass, gospel, and country. Twice nominated for the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America’s (SPBGMA) “Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year” award, Greg’s phenomenal guitar playing has earned him nine nominations and five consecutive wins as SPBGMA’s Guitarist of the Year. They are joined by Oregon native and festival favorite, Ellie Hakanson on fiddle and vocals as well as champion multi-instrumentalist and veteran musician Isaac Calender on bass. In addition to their individual accomplishments, the band was featured as the California Bluegrass Association’s Emerging Artist of the year, an honor given into the past to bands such as Della Mae, and Chris Henry & the Hardcore Grass.
Colorado’s FY5 proudly swim in the deep currents of American music, playing new songs, well-informed of country and bluegrass traditions, but not bound to them. Featuring thoughtful arrangements, strong singing and musicianship, the band strives to connect to listeners with stories of common struggles and big ideas. While their sound evokes timelessness, it is decidedly contemporary, well-traveled 21st century sensibility that informs their songwriting.
As they share the stories that drive the songs, FY5’s show leaves listeners certainly with tapping toes, but ranging thoughts as well. FY5 is excited for the release of their 4th full-length album in early 2018, The Way These Things Go, featuring their trademark story songs, clever arranging, and catchy hooks. The band was selected as official showcase artists for the 2017 International Bluegrass Music Association conference including a songwriter showcase with Mike Finders.
A new and enchanting sound has emerged from the hotbed of the Colorado roots music scene. Masontown, a young band with a concept as timeless as the Rocky Mountains, has alighted onto a bluegrass community that has already produced some of the best that the acoustic music world has to offer. But Colorado, and the wider world of modern music, hasn’t quite heard this yet.
A lauded fiddle champion and classical violinist. A veteran bluegrass mandolin player and composer. One of Colorado’s jazz guitar greats reborn as a flatpicking sensation. An upright bassist with roots running deep in the classical and jazz traditions. These are the individual elements that come together to create Masontown.
Masontown’s sound is a exciting take on the American acoustic tradition. At once fresh and familiar, the group unites the sounds of bluegrass, old-time, folk, and new acoustic music into a sonic melting pot that hearkens back to our deep musical traditions while remaining defiantly modern in conception. Echoes of the poignant exploration of the Matt Flinner Trio blend with the fierce drive of Bill Monroe and the plaintive song-craft of Cahalen Morrison and Eli West. It’s no surprise that the members of Masontown have shared the stage with many of these musical icons that their sound evokes.
The listening halls and dance floors of Colorado have already begun to hail the arrival of this new force in the acoustic music community. Masontown is a band on the move, driven to delight the ears, touch the hearts, and move the feet of generations of music lovers in Colorado and far beyond.
Halden Wofford & the Hi Beams ride out from the cutting edge cowtown of Denver, Colorado. Rootsy and real, neither revivalist nor retro, the Hi-Beamsâ€™ brand of country music is as boundless and electrifying as America itself.
Equal parts Hank Williams and Johnny Depp, front man Halden Wofford pours forth a potent mix of rocked-up honky tonk, western swing, Dylanesque originals and spaghetti western epics. There is no creative limit to the songwriter, illustrator, author, storyteller and singer. But Halden has met his match in the Hi*Beams. Each outrageous tale he spins is met by the whine and wail of the steel guitar, the furious double-neck electric guitar and mandolin, and the relentless thump of the upright bass and drums.
From Red Rocks to rodeos, the Fillmore Auditorium to the back of a flatbed truck, Prairie Home Companion to performing arts centers, Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams deliver an unforgettable and original night of American music.
The Wrecklunds are a Denver based bluegrass band that mixes classic harmonies and driving rhythms to create a sound that’s both unique and familiar. It’s the fruit of a friendship between the four members that spans almost 20 years, multiple bands, and many late night, whiskey infused picking parties. Eric Drobny (bass/vocals), Mike Martin (fiddle) and Davis Vardaman (mandolin) cut their bluegrass teeth in the band “40 Gallon Still” while Bryan Eklund (guitar/vocals) honed his vocal chops in the Evergreen trio “Bobber Johnson and the Nightcrawlers”. Over the years, they have continued to play together and separately in different combinations and in various styles. Now they have joined forces again to form their newest project – a fun-filled, rollicking ensemble that combines groove, soul and experimentation. They’re a wreck of a good time!
The Bluegrass Ensemble at Colorado College consists of five students performing with all acoustic traditional bluegrass instruments. By audition only, the students immerse themselves in the traditional style of bluegrass, incorporating its full musical spectrum of vocal harmony, tone, and timing. They have the privilege of performing on the main stage at the Bluegrass Meltdown in Durango, CO, Steve’s Guitar’s in Carbondale, CO, and the Black Rose Acoustic Society in Colorado Springs. The group also performs two yearly recitals, as well as a host of events at Colorado College.
This years’ musicians consists of Frances Murray / fiddle; Michael Hasson / mandolin; Garrett Blackwell / guitar; Jeremy Becker / banjo; Ali McGarigal / upright bass.
This unique opportunity to be a part of The Colorado College Bluegrass Ensemble is a way to enhance their lives and inspire others.
Frances Murray, Frances is a junior at CC and this is her first year doing bluegrass. She grew up playing classical violin, and is having a ton of fun switching over to the bluegrass style. It’s been a great experience learning to play improv with fellow bandmates.
Michael Hasson, Michael is a junior and has been involved in the bluegrass program since his freshman year. He grew up playing fiddle contests around Northern California and transitioned to mandolin in college. His main inspirations include Adam Steffey and David Grisman.
Garrett Blackwell, Garrett was a senior at CC this year, but he’s relatively new to the bluegrass department. He has been playing guitar and writing songs for most of his life, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that Garrett began pickin’ bluegrass, and it has since substantially consumed his waking hours. With inspirations across genres, from Tony Rice to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Garrett aspires to make music his living.
Jeremy Becker, Jeremy is a senior at CC this year and has been involved with the bluegrass program since his freshman year. He became interested in the banjo in high school but started playing bluegrass when he moved to Colorado. Inspired by the playing of Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, and Noam Pikelny, bluegrass has become a large part of his life.
Ali McGarigal, Ali is a junior Environmental Science major at CC and has been playing bass in a CC Bluegrass Ensemble since her freshman year. She started playing the double bass in her school orchestra at age 10. Her interest in Bluegrass started once she arrive at CC. Playing in the CC Bluegrass Ensemble has allowed her to continue to have music be an important part of her life while perusing an undergraduate degree.
A mainstay of Old-Time music in Colorado for the better part of a decade, the members of Six Dollar String Band play a passionate, eclectic, and refreshingly honest array of String Band music in a style that plays homage to their home in the southwest corner of the Centennial State.
The award-winning band’s most recent record, “Mayday,” is a 7” vinyl album that documents the development of their distinct Colorado sound, as well as their unique approach to presenting their recorded music. An EP at length, the album’s ripping fiddle and banjo tunes, backed with thumping bass and melodically-driven guitar, are woven together with audio collages that are composed from field recordings that band members collected onsite in Mayday, Colorado.
The band‘s latest recording project—this time recorded on location during an artist residency at Willowtail Springs in Mancos, Colorado—will be out for release in 2019.
The Six Dollar String Band is Tony Holmquist, fiddle; Stephen Sellers, bass; Robin Davis, guitar; and Brendan Shafer, clawhammer and fingerstyle rolling banjo.
La La Bones is a five-piece bluegrass band that draws inspiration from the wild landscape and western history of southwestern Colorado. Rooted in Durango with a vocal arsenal shared by two women and three men, La La Bones delivers a diverse, original, and dynamic bluegrass sound. The ensemble features Tommy Frederico on banjo, Jimi Giles on bass, Kathy Hilimire on fiddle, Scott Roberts on mandolin, and Kyle Siesser on guitar.
The Lawn Chair Kings bring it back to their country & bluegrass roots with acoustic guitar, mandolin, stand-up bass and banjo. They’re right at home as an acoustic band, although they can often be found throwing down electric western garage rock. Erik and Dan founded LCK in 2000. Their friendship and musicianship have grown stronger each year. The Lawn Chair Kings are pleased to be ongoing part of the Meltdown family. Erik Nordstrom plays guitar/harmonica, writes songs, and sings lead vocals. Erik’s songs are sometimes poignant, whimsical, quirky, often surprising, and always enjoyable. He takes country, bluegrass, rock, and punk influences and mixes them into a style all his own. Dan Leek plays bass and sings harmony. He brings a sense of joy and musicality from his Louisiana roots. Patrick Dressen plays mandolin when he’s not playing drums or co-hosting the Rezbilly Breakdown. Pat is a veteran of many local bands. Hap Purcell has been playing banjo with the band as long as he can remember. Hap likes to count to 4 and turn it up to 11. Please give a great-big Meltdown welcome to Durango’s own Lawn Chair Kings.
Last Nickel, from Dolores, Colorado, has been playing together regionally for the last seven years. This is their sixth appearance at the Meltdown. The group brings together diverse musical backgrounds, blending traditional musical themes with original twists. The music paints pictures of the timeless relating of people and places, and the mess and majesty therein. Their first album, “Sod and Stubble”, was released in December of 2017. You’re just as likely to find the band performing on a local stage as you are to find them searching out inspiration on a river or mountain near you. Featuring vocal performances by each of the five members, Last Nickel is Nikki Sargent, on bass fiddle; Chris Bouton, on lead guitar; Bobby Wintringham, on mandolin; Andy Hutchinson, on banjo; and John Chmelir, on rhythm guitar.
Lost Souls plays an intriguing mix of old and new country, bluegrass, swing and American folk tunes. This trio keeps it tight, singing many a tale of cowboys, dogs, horses and the outlaw west, with shared vocals and fine picking. They have played in the Durango area for about two years and were proud to be part of last fall’s Meltdown on the Mesa. This is the second year they will play together at the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown.
Don Cooke has travelled a long road as a musician and, for over 40 years, has played rock, bluegrass, country and swing. As a Lost Soul, he deftly moves between fiddle, guitar, and mandolin to help keep the band’s repertoire surprising and fresh. Marc Katz hails from New York and has been picking guitar from a young age. For the last 7 years, he has focused solidly on mandolin and moves between the two instruments with ease, lending rock and blues-influenced guitar licks as well as sweet mando leads and rhythm in the best bluegrass tradition. Charlotte Overby plays the double bass and sings a lovely harmony part. She has played bass for in a number of string bands and with an 8-piece klezmer band—and was inspired and taught by Mitch Jayne and Forrest Rose, two of the best. She hails originally from Columbia, Missouri but has lived in the West for more than a decade.
From somewhere in the mountains around Durango, Clods spring up from the ground to play their own brand of Dirty Bluegrass. Featuring local members from local turn-of-the-century era OuttaHand String Band, four vocalists, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and bass come together in a time-tested groove.
The Blue Moon Ramblers
The Blue Moon Ramblers are comprised of five Durango musicians, who have been performing professionally for nearly 40 years each in Colorado, primarily in the Four Corners’ region. The band is known for being the Sunday Night House Band of the Diamond Belle Saloon at the Strater Hotel in Durango, CO. All the musicians have been friends and have played together in a variety of groups, going back to the 1970’s. The Blue Moon Ramblers are also the only band to perform at every single Durango Bluegrass Meltdown!
Holding the bottom together is Glenn Keefe on bass, Red (Marlon) Greer has been an integral and founding member on fiddle, Donny Johnson on guitar, George Usinowicz on banjo, lap-steel, mandolin and vocals.
Sunny & The Whiskey Machine is the perfect blend of blues, alt-country, bluegrass, rock n roll, and a whole lot of soul. Consisting of a core trio with each member playing multiple instruments, they exude a distinct sound lovingly dubbed “soulgrass” by their fans. As you weave your way through their musical landscape, you never know what’s coming next; from soaring harmonies of almost a capella songs to blunt, in your face diatribes to the world, you’re never bored when they take the stage.
The Whiskey Machine came together in early 2017 after it’s members played together in many musical projects in and around Durango, Colorado, and found the simplicity of the trio compelling. Sunny Gable fronts the band, writes the songs and provides not only powerful vocals, but words and stories that actually make you think, all while keeping your toes tapping with the mandolin, guitar, and fiddle. Guy Ewing heads up harmonies and holds down the beat on upright bass, while Jeff Moorehead fills your ears with tasty dobro work and an occasional stint on guitar.
The Fellowship of the Strings have embarked on a quest to bring to life the most moving, powerful, and epic bluegrass music the world has ever seen. This five-piece string band is comprised of Dylan Ruckel on the guitar, Jeff “Birdman” on the bass, Dennon Jones on the fiddle, and Patrick Storen on the mandolin. Each member brings their own strengths to the table, imbuing the band with elements of celtic, rock, old time, jam band, and others. They are all thankful to call Durango Colorado home. One does not simply shred strings with such flair and style, yet the Fellowship of the Strings will see it done.
Blending traditional & contemporary bluegrass, country, and folk, Bluegrouse has coalesced out of the continually shifting landscape of the local Durango Music scene. As an acoustic band, Bluegrouse can be found performing in coffee shops, wine bars and other smaller venues around town, sharing a true “living room sound”, which keeps their music personal and intimate. All four artists have been involved with other bands and have performed at numerous Meltdown events in recent years. Bluegrouse continues to evolve and have fun, with a rich sound that pushes musical boundaries and vibrates with soul-searching harmonies. Lester Alex, mandolin & vocals, Carol Calkin, fiddle & vocals; Jonti Fox, bass & vocals; Laurie Swisher, guitar & vocals.
Chokecherry Jam has entertained folks in the Four Corners area since 2010. Bringing together a variety of musical background and experience, the group enjoys performing a mix of Bluegrass and Gospel, while occasionally including a few “not so traditional” tunes intended to tickle your funny-bone.
The band has performed at the Durango Meltdown for a number of years and participates in the “Bluegrass in the Schools” program. They also appear regularly at Farmington’s TGIF, Summer Terrace, and Real Night at the Museum, as well as at other community events and performance venues in the region, including Wines of the San Juan. The group facilitates a semi-monthly Bluegrass jam in Farmington.
Band members include Bob Ashley on the 5-string banjo, Sue Coulter and Elaine Gapinski sharing duties on bass and mandolin, and Tom Miller on guitar.
People We Know
Originally a collective of musicians from Durango and Northern La Plata County, People We Know has solidified into a core group of musicians. Featuring members of existing Durango groups The Outskirts and The Fellowship of the Strings, the group brings a new take on string music. They explore the limits of bluegrass covers, while taking a new approach to the genre in their original compositions.
The band, comprised of Alex Forsthoff, Jeffrey Berman, Aaron Cooklin, Jim Figora, and Mark Walser, will take you on a musical ride from all ends of the bluegrass spectrum. A show will go from up-tempo, foot stomping, hollering bluegrass, to slower ballads from the heart. Join us!
Smelter Mountain Boys
Smelter Mountain Boys are a new bluegrass collaboration in Durango featuring some familiar faces and some new ones. Most notably Corey Clark whose voice and songs beckon to bluegrass music origins and roots. After some time with Clinton Gregory Bluegrass Band out of Nashville, TN, Corey Clark moved to Durango, CO and quickly met some local pickers who all saw an opportunity to fill a void of more traditional bluegrass, apart from the progressive sounds so pervasive in Colorado today. Corey formed the Smelter Mountain Boys with Brendan Shafer of Six Dollar String Band on banjo, this project lets Brendan focus on bluegrass style 3 finger picking. Steven Labowskie on bass (formerly of the Scrugglers) who is playing his 1946 Kay bass instead of the washtub he’s known for. Pete Donahue on mandolin was raised on Colorado bluegrass and the festival circuit. Together the boys play play a highly energized traditional style of bluegrass chock full of high lonesome vocals.