We are hard at work on the 2018 Durango Bluegrass Meltdown lineup.
Check back in late December for preliminary line up announcements!
Hope you can join us in the meantime at our fall fundraiser, Meltdown on the Mesa on Saturday, September 23, 2017. Purchase tickets here.
2017 Line up
April 21, 22, and 23, 2017
Raw, soulful, and with plenty of swagger, Town Mountain has earned raves for their hard-driving sound, their in-house songwriting and the honky-tonk edge that permeates their exhilarating live performances, whether in a packed club or at a sold-out festival. The hearty base of Town Mountain’s music is the bluegrass triumvirate of Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. It’s what else goes into the mix that brings it all to life both on stage and on record and reflects the group’s wide-ranging influences – from the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and the ethereal lyrics of Robert Hunter, to the honest, vintage country of Willie, Waylon, and Merle.
“The Asheville, North Carolina, five-piece hews pretty close to tradition, especially when it comes to instrumentation: acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, double bass… And with three vocalists and driving forces within the band — guitarist Robert Greer, banjoist Jesse Langlais and mandolinist Phil Barker — the harmonies are there… But the band… has serious country and rock ’n’ roll DNA,” says The Bend Bulletin’s Brian McElhiney. Town Mountain also features fiddler Jack Devereux and Zach Smith on bass.
They released their 5th studio album, Southern Crescent, on April 1, 2016 on LoHi Records and toured throughout the year with it. Produced and engineered by GRAMMY winner Dirk Powell, Southern Crescent was recorded in Powell’s studio The Cypress House in south-central Louisiana town of Breaux Bridge. Since it’s release the band debuted on the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium stages bringing their sound to new audiences. The critically acclaimed album debuted at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart while staying for ten weeks on the Americana Music Association’s radio chart’s Top 40.
“This Asheville band killed it at the Ryman this summer  opening up the bluegrass series and they put out this stellar collection of original songs that asserts them as the hippest, bluest traditional bluegrass band of their generation. In an era of bluegrass with manners, they cut with a serrated edge,” exclaims Nashville’s Roots Radio’s Craig Havighurst in his list of “Essential Americana Albums We Loved in 2016.”
Town Mountain has released five studio albums including their most recent, Southern Crescent (LoHi Records 2016) which was recorded in a decidedly old-school way, live, with minimal fixes and overdubs, with all the musicians in the same room and no noise-reducing baffling between them. The album’s “Songs of escape (‘Ain’t Gonna Worry Me’), reunion (‘Comin’ Back to You’), alienation (‘House with No Windows’), rambling (‘Wildbird’), and gambling (‘Arkansas Gambler’) present a panorama of sentiments and situations adding heft to the bluegrass canon,” according to Raleigh News & Observer’s Jack Bernhardt.
Other efforts include Leave The Bottle (Pinecastle Records 2012), Steady Operator (Pinecastle Records 2011), and Heroes & Heretics (October 2008). They also independently released a LIVE album (2014 from a show at Isis Music Hall in Asheville) as well as a two-song EP (2015) of Grateful Dead tunes called The Dead Sessions. Their debut album (June 2008) is entitled Original Bluegrass and Roots Country and KSUT/Durango Telegraph’s Chris Aaland writes, “No critic has coined a better phrase to describe their sound.”
While the members have taken the road less traveled when it comes to the mainstream or traditional purists, they’ve been dubbed as “The Taco Stand Troubadours” by Aaland (due to their frequent stops at such establishments) and he calls them “one of those bands that has paid its dues and won over the Durango audience through the years, much like the Gourds and Leftover Salmon.”
In 2016 they performed opening shows with Railroad Earth, Peter Rowan, Hard Working Americans, Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Jim Lauderdale adding to previous years’ performances with Ralph Stanley and his Clinch Mountain Boys, The Del McCoury Band, The Seldom Scene, The Infamous Stringdusters, The Steep Canyon Rangers among others.
Since their formation in 2005, the same year they won the prestigious Rockygrass band competition, Town Mountain has traversed many a mile across the States, including Alaska, as well as into Canada, Germany, and Finland. Town Mountain has made their rounds to a plethora of festivals throughout the years including Pickathon, IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass, Wintergrass, The Durango Meltdown, MerleFest, Watermelon Park Festival, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, Suwannee Roots Revival, Suwannee Springfest, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, The Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival, The California Bluegrass Association’s Father’s Day Festival, DelFest, Lake Eden Arts Festival, Graves Mountain Festival, Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, Nelsonville Music Festival in Ohio, ROMP, The Festival of the Bluegrass, Three Rivers Arts Festival, Denver Beer Co.’s Sundrenched Music Festival, Rooster Walk, Mountain Song, and Nelsonville Music Festival among others.
What has become one of the group’s more memorable live performance songs is their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire,” which they first recorded in 2008’s Heroes & Heretics, with Greer’s distinctive Southern drawl at the forefront. The track has reached over 2 million listens on Spotify and garnered over 850,000 views on a YouTube videoposted in 2012. The Atlantic’s Matt Vasilogambros writes, “Bruce Springsteen is a natural fit for bluegrass… Even the Boss’s earlier music had hints of folk influences. Just listen to “I’m On Fire”… I keep turning to one cover, which I admittedly listen to more often than the original. It’s from Town Mountain… They dropped the synthesizer, added a banjo, a fiddle, and another singer for harmony, and made a gem.”
Another fan favorite is their Jimmy Martin-esque original “Lawdog,” penned by Barker in 2012, which music journalist Juli Thanki instantly called an “unearthed classic” when the album was released. They recorded a live version of the song at WAMU’s Bluegrass Country Radio in 2013 which has nearly 100,000 views and continues to be a barn burner to this day with the entire crowd singing along as barker sings, “I make my livin driving, I’m a bluegrass music man… Chasin the horizon, for another one night stand… I got a lot of miles to travel, and I’m runnin a little late… And a no show gets me nothin, so don’t you get in my way. I got no time for ya lawdog…”
“While it remains a bluegrass band in all things instrumentation and touring the bluegrass and festival circuit, it’s’ sound crosses into American roots and even outlaw country, perhaps as a result of the gritty, mournful tone of Greer’s vocals.” Durango’s KDUR radio’s DJ, Bryant Liggett says, “It is reminiscent of the 1970s truck-driving film sound, the perfect accompaniment to a car chase through the south á la ‘Smokey and the Bandit.’”
David Parmley began his musical career at age 15 and by the time he turned 17, he began his full time career as a member of The Bluegrass Cardinals. That band featured his father, Don Parmley, and three Los Angeles musicians. In 1975 they made their way to the Washington DC area and began performing several nights a week for several years. David’s lead and baritone voice was the backbone to The Cardinal sound. Dozens of musicians have worked with David and Don over the years but “The Sound” remained constant. The Bluegrass Cardinals recorded dozens of projects during their 25 year run. The material is considered the finest to come out of the 70’s and 80’s Bluegrass era. David left The Bluegrass Cardinals in the 90’s to pursue a solo career featuring a more modern approach to Bluegrass Music. David Parmley and Continental Divide topped the Bluegrass Charts throughout the 90’s. He took time off the road around 2008, but now in 2016, David is returning to Bluegrass Music with a new renewed spirit. Cardinal Tradition is an exciting new adventure and one that everyone has been waiting for.
Danny Barnes first picked up the banjo as a kid in Texas after seeing John Hartford on television, and he hasn’t put it down. The early 1990’s saw Danny Barnes bring bluegrass music to the punk-rock crowd as a founder of the seminal band Bad Livers, who were just as likely to play bluegrass versions of Motorhead songs as they were to cover Bill Monroe, playing traditional festivals and rock venues.
Post Bad Livers he’s maintained a steady solo career releasing CD’s, 7-inch records, and cassettes that fall into bluegrass and alt-country genres, rock and pop, and his own creation of what he calls “Barnyard Electronics.”
Danny Barnes is touring with a new album Stove Up (released March 3, 2017), a homage to Don Stover. It was recorded in eTown Studios in Colorado, and produced by Nick Forster. Nick also joins Danny on the album on guitar, along with mandolinist Chris Henry, fiddler Jason Carter, and bassist Mike Bub. “Happily, with Stove Up, our five-string hero steps out of the lab and into the sunlight where his pre-war Gibson can really shine,” says Tim O’Brien.
He’s also played the banjo alongside the likes of Tim O’Brien, Bill Frisell, Robert Earl Keen and The Yonder Mountain String Band, among other artists outside the bluegrass and roots music circles.
His songwriting is quirky, daring and catchy, his banjo picking striking, bold and full of ideas. Witnessing Barnes perform is an experience; he’s a masterful player dedicated to the musical traditions the banjo has been a part of while unafraid to use his talent and abilities take the instrument and the music into limitless directions.
Winner of the2015 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo, Barnes latest release is “Stove Up,” a bluegrass album recorded at E-Town in Boulder, Colorado. This is his first Meltdown appearance. Bryant Liggett
For several years Brooklyn, New York-based guitarist Grant Gordy has been a major voice in the American roots music world, and one of the most highly regarded young instrumentalists of his generation. He held the guitar chair in the legendary David Grisman Quintet for six years, and has also worked alongside such musical luminaries as Edgar Meyer, Steve Martin, Tony Trischka and Darol Anger. Grant’s music has been heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concerts, and he’s performed all over the world, from Carnegie Hall to Bonnaroo, Finland to India.
“Grant Gordy is a special musician. While being a bluegrass musician at heart, Grant’s incredible breadth of harmonic and rhythmic knowledge from jazz gives him a strikingly singular voice on the guitar; one that is worth giving your attention.”
JOE K. WALSH
Hailed by CBC-Newfoundland as “one of the best mandolinists of his generation” and by Vintage Guitar Magazine as “brilliant”, Portland, Maine-based mandolin player Joe K. Walsh is known for his exceptional tone and taste, and his collaborations with acoustic music luminaries including legendary fiddler Darol Anger, flatpick guitar hero Scott Nygaard, folk star Jonathan Edwards, and pop/grass darlings Joy Kills Sorrow have taken him all over the global and musical map. He’s played with everyone from John Scofield to Bela Fleck to Emmylou Harris, and performed everywhere from festivals to laundromats to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. After a number of award-winning years as mandolinist with bluegrass stars the Gibson Brothers, Joe currently splits his time between an inventive string band called Mr Sun (featuring Darol Anger, Grant Gordy and Ethan Jodziewicz) a duo with Grant Gordy, and his own band. An avid educator, Joe is a mandolin instructor at the Berklee College of Music. He teaches regularly at music camps throughout North America and beyond, and teaches online through Peghead Nation.
The Kathy Kallick Band is based along the west coast — Kathy and Tom are from the San Francisco Bay Area, Annie’s from Portland, Cary from Seattle, and Greg from Anchorage — but their powerful mixture of original and classic material, mirroring their distinctive combination of traditional and contemporary sensibilities, has great appeal everywhere.
There is a tendency to think of West Coast bluegrass as being softer, jazzier, and somehow “other” than traditional. This can be the case, but there is also a school of bluegrass in Northern California which has, from the beginning, been steeped in Monroe-based tradition — as well as welcoming to women and original songs.
Kathy Kallick has been leading bands in this traditional brand of West Coast bluegrass for many years, and continues to evolve as one of the music’s extraordinary composers and vocalists. Foxhounds is her 20th album, recordings which include nearly 150 of her original songs.
Foxhounds is also the fifth album for the Kathy Kallick Band. Each of their four previous releases has spent a year in the upper echelon of the national bluegrass charts, and Foxhounds promises to be no exception. The material is compelling and varied, the instrumental playing is dazzling and inventive, the vocals luminous and extraordinary. And they’re truly a band, listening to and sparked by each other, contributing to the songs and the sound as a whole. Just like a KKB show!
The Freight Hoppers are a four-piece string band presenting hard-driving Old Time music with an emotional, raw excitement that keeps one foot planted in the past and the other in the present. Of course that’s only when they keep their feet still!
The band started presenting their energetic take on fiddle band music four times a day, seven days a week at the Great Smoky Mountains Railway shortly after forming in 1992. Their repertoire includes music that was first recorded in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s and spans geographically from Mississippi to West Virginia.
The heart of the band is the fiddle and clawhammer banjo combo of Merritt Smith and Frank Lee, while the rhythm section of Allie Burbrink on guitar and Andy Smith on string bass hold down the ensemble. Based out of the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, The Freight Hoppers draw from a deep source of rural southern music for their inspiration, and they are proud to present this music that is still meaningful today. Merrit Smith – fiddle, vocals / Frank Lee- banjo, bottleneck guitar, string bass, vocals / Allie Burbrink – guitar, vocals / Andrea Smith – string bass, banjo, vocals
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 20 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.
Formed in the winter of 2014, Ragged Union quickly became a fixture in the Colorado bluegrass scene, earning fans among both the younger and older audience sets, with an all-star lineup of some of the state’s finest pickers and the dynamic front duo of husband-and-wife, Geoff and Christina Union. The band’s sound is built around the Unions’ original songs, with a blues influence and a connection to the Texas songwriting tradition. The music comes to life in the electrifying hands of some of Colorado’s finest and most sought-after bluegrass musicians, who along with the Unions form a dynamic and cohesive unit that puts on a memorable and exciting show for dancers, listeners, traditionalists and progressives alike.
With a love of the traditional elements of the bluegrass sound (duet and trio singing, highly skilled performance, and a robust rhythmic drive), and a craving for doing something just a little bit different with the lyrics and arrangements, Ragged Union has carved out its own increasingly recognized space in the crowded Colorado field, and has been busy expanding the reach of their sound onto the national stage.
Geoff Union (guitar, vocal; Fayetteville, North Carolina) has been performing in bluegrass bands for almost 20 years – most notably with the nationally touring Two High String Band (2002-2009). THSB played major festivals in the US including Rockygrass, Merle Fest, Spring Fest, concert series and clubs all across the country. Union is a powerful flat pick guitarist and singer, and writes in an “outsider” lyric style, eschewing standard country themes of love and loss for darker material including moonshinery, obscure history (mostly related to moonshine) and desperate fiction.
Christina Union (lead and tenor vocal; Eagle River, Alaska) has been singing all her life and was a member of several local Colorado bands when she and Geoff met in 2008. She has a powerful blues-flecked emotional delivery, a natural talent for harmony, and is a skilled lyricist and songwriter.
Jordan Ramsey (mandolin, vocal; Knoxville, Tennessee) 2016 Walnut Valley National Mandolin Champion and 2008 Rockygrass Mandolin Champion. He studied under Raymond McLain and Jack Tottle at East Tennesse State University, and has shared the stage with the likes of David Grisman, Porter Wagoner, Ralph Stanley, Curley Seckler, Tater Tate, Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski, Hunter Berry, and Adam Steffey.
Chris “C-Bob” Elliot (banjo; Huffman, Texas) studied banjo at South Plains Community College with Alan Munde. He won the Rocky Grass banjo competition in 2007, and is well known for his work in the popular band Spring Creek Bluegrass, and more recently the Blue Canyon Boys. He has appeared on many national stages with those bands, and also teaches.
Justin Hoffenberg (fiddle, Boulder, Colorado) has been a mainstay of the Colorado bluegrass scene for a decade. He fronts his own band (currently on hiatus), Long Road Home, which had featured Pete Wernick on banjo before his return to Hot Rize. Justin is also been a resident instructor at the Rocky Grass Academy.
The celebration of mountains and whitewater rapids is the inspiration for everything Rapidgrass. Rapidgrass is original mountain music influenced by an active, outdoor lifestyle. Brought together through music and love for mountains, Rapidgrass defines modern, acoustic, Colorado mountain music.
The lineup of Rapidgrass includes Colorado native and pro skier Mark Morris (guitar, vocals); Coleman Smith (violin, mandolin, vocals); Carl Minorkey (upright bass, tenor banjo, vocals); and Alex Johnstone (mandolin, fiddle, vocals). Adjunct players include Billy Cardine (dobro, vocals, recording producer) and Kyle Hauser (banjo, vocals). This font range Colorado ensemble uses classical, gypsy, bluegrass, pop, swing, and other world rhythms to create what is, and can only be described of as, Rapidgrass.
Rapidgrass Music Festival and Rapidgrass the ensemble were twins born of the desire to celebrate the rapids of Clear Creek and the mountains of Idaho Springs through mountain music, each complementing the other. Rapidgrass released its first CD, Rapidgrass Quintet, in 2013 and was voted top 5 mountain albums by the Mountain Arts Culture Colorado. In 2015 Rapidgrass then released Crooked Road and went on to win the prestigious Rockygrass band contest that same year. Rapidgrass is currently producing their 3rd album, Happy Trails, which is due to be released at the eighth annual Rapidgrass Music Festival this June 23-25. Rapidgrass has had the pleasure of bringing mountain music throughout Colorado, Alaska, the lower 48, and the European Alps. Rapidgrass is eager to kick off their 2017 music endeavors. – Happy Trails!
Savage Hearts are a rising bluegrass-meets-honky-tonk band on Colorado’s musically innovative Front Range. Featuring string pedagogue Annie Savage along with songwriter/educator Kevin Slick, Old Town Pickin’ Parlor owner Kit Simon, fiddle phenom Nancy Steinberger and the driving bass boogie of Keith Summers, this Southwestern Bluegrass band specializes in high energy performances and has a passion for providing educational outreach. It’s all twin fiddles and twin female vocals, with an explosive mix of Bluegrass, Western Swing and Honky Tonk. It is a sound all its own, a kind of retro fabulous grassy blend of Hank, Patsy, and Johnny with a powerful hit of Sriracha-inspired, Latin-flavored instrumentation, and peppered with engaging stage banter and surprising dance-ability.
It’s all twin fiddles and twin female vocals, with an explosive mix of Bluegrass, Western Swing and Honky Tonk. It is a sound all its own, a kind of retro fabulous grassy blend of Hank, Patsy, and Johnny with a powerful hit of Sriracha-inspired, Latin-flavored instrumentation, and peppered with engaging stage banter and surprising dance-ability.
Moab, Utah based Quicksand Soup features an energetic mix of bluegrass, old-time and acoustic country performed by some of the finest pickers in the Four Corners region. They perform a wide range of original music and some old-time covers. They are led by Oklahoma Ozarks native (and Nashville veteran) Sand Sheff, who has released 12 albums over his career, been a vaudeville star (as “Mr. Texas”) in Austin, and written a book (Real is Good) about human spirit and technologies. His songwriting has been called “the very definition of Americana” (by Music Row Magazine)and has found an audience all over the world. Quicksand Soup also features the blazing hot guitar picking of David Steward, an established recording artist (and yodeler) in his own right who also performs with jazz legend Gene Perla. On mandolin is Dinosaur, Co. native Eric Jones (formerly of Big Timbre), a four corners fixture and bluegrass historian. Charlotte Overby (bass) hails originally from Columbia, Missouri where she learned to play old-time, bluegrass and klezmer double bass. She has lived in the West for more than a decade and has called Durango home for five years. Dan Peha (banjo) was raised in the great bluegrass state of California but has lived in Durango for over 30 years. He has played in three different bands at Meltdown over the years and currently serves on the Meltdown Board of Directors.
Quicksand Soup typically performs around a single microphone in the old time style, keeping audiences smiling and tapping their toes with their occasionally humorous asides and barn-burning solos.
Their famous Sunday morning sets are filled with traditional spirituals and Sand’s one-of-a-kind original gospel music.
They are currently the house bluegrass band at the Moab Backyard Theater.
The Bluegrass Ensemble at Colorado College consists of six 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 unique opportunity to be a part of The Colorado College Bluegrass Ensemble is a way to enhance their lives and inspire others.
Jessica Wright grew up in the bay area of Northern California and is now a Junior at Colorado College. She began playing electric guitar during her freshman year of high school and by her senior year she had switched to playing mostly acoustic. Her interest in folk-americana music led her to take bluegrass guitar lessons during her freshman year at CC, which she progressively became more involved with. She has been playing in an ensemble for two years now, and hopes to continue playing and performing.
Isaac Radner, a junior Political Science major from Colorado College, began playing the violin at age six. He was classically trained throughout most of his violin career, and participated in various orchestras, symphonies, and ensembles—including the Colorado College orchestra. During his sophomore year he joined the Colorado College Bluegrass Ensemble and quickly fell in love with the music, welcoming the challenge of playing in a style with which he is unfamiliar. Bluegrass offers a more intimate and energetic performance experience than classical music, and allows him to travel and play all around the state and country. The one downside is that he has only one more year left with the CC Bluegrass Ensemble!
Ben Pitta is from a small Massachusetts town called Hadley, famous for its asparagus. Ben started playing the upright bass in 5th grade and takes influence from Edgar Meyer and Paul Kowert.
Jeremy Becker grew up near San Francisco, CA and became interested in bluegrass and old time music at the end of high school. After being inspired by Bela Fleck and Noam Pikelny, he started playing banjo when he got to Colorado College.
Michael Hasson grew up in Sausalito, California and is currently a sophomore double majoring in geology and history. He played California fiddle contests for several years before making the transition to bass in high school, where he was introduced to playing jazz and bluegrass. He switched to mandolin at the beginning of his freshman year of college and has been playing in a bluegrass ensemble since then. Adam Steffey, Chris Thile, and Tim O’Brien are among his primary influences.
Old Time music enthusiasts count themselves among a small subculture within the acoustic genre. With similar instrumentation although often pre-dating bluegrass, old time can be characterized by unique regional styles that draw from influences ranging from Africa to western Europe and even indigenous America. The Six Dollar String Band has been a mainstay of old time music in the four corners for six years and consists of Tony Holmquist playing fiddle; Stephen Sellers, bass; Robin Davis, guitar; and Brendan Shafer, clawhammer and fingerstyle rolling banjo. The band is celebrating the release of their newest recording, ‘Mayday’, a vinyl-only album documenting musical spaces and sounds collected on-site in Mayday, Colorado at the mouth of La Plata canyon.
It seems at every turn, there are changes. The Badly Bent is certainly no stranger to changes. 2017 brings a new lineup to the band, one that takes us to a new level. We have so much history in and around Durango, from winning the Telluride Bluegrass Band contest in 2005 to playing festivals scattered from California to Indiana. But, without a doubt, our favorite stage and setting is a Friday night set at the Henry Strater Theatre for the Meltdown. We love playing for our friends as a hometown band.
The new lineup brings new music, new energy, and new spirit. Sticking to our roots in traditional bluegrass, we are adding songs to our repertoire that keep us motivated and excited. Some of the new songs you will recognize, some you will not. That’s what makes it fun.
The Badly Bent is Cindi Trautmann (fiddle, vocals), Mark Epstein (banjo, vocals), Robb Brophy (mandolin, vocals), Fred Kosak (guitar, vocals), and Cody Tinnin (bass, vocals).
Come help us celebrate our tradition at the Meltdown.
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 fiddle. 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 sixteen years ago. Their friendship and musicianship have grown stronger each year. The Lawn Chair Kings are pleased to make their third appearance at the Meltdown. 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. Pat is a veteran of many local bands. Alissa Wolf is the new Lawn Chair Ace fiddler. She is classically and bluegrass trained. Alissa is the executive director of The iAM Music Institute, bringing music education to the next generation of Durango musicians. Alissa will please your ears and win your hearts. Please give a great-big Meltdown welcome to Durango’s own Lawn Chair Kings.
Returning for their fifth appearance at the Meltdown, Last Nickel, from Dolores, Colorado, combines the drive of bluegrass, the grit of Americana and the lyrical heart of folk. Playing original songs and some old favorites, Last Nickel sits the traditional and the contemporary down at the table to arm wrestle. Grown from a weekly living room jam in Dolores, Last Nickel is Nikki Sargent on bass, 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.
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, and this marks the 29th year of members of the Ramblers performing at that same venue. 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, Mario Dobbs on lead guitar, lap-steel, mandolin and vocals.
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.
Chokecherry Jam was formed in 2010 from a group of friends that just wanted to play more bluegrass. The band has performed at the Durango Meltdown and the Santa Fe Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival, as well as at City of Farmington and Ignacio Arts Council events. Additionally, they have participated in the Durango Meltdown’s, “Bluegrass in the Schools” program. The group also volunteers regularly, hosting semi-annual “Gospel Sing-a-Longs”, a semi-monthly jam in Aztec, and provides entertainment for nursing home and assisted living residents, private parties, and community fundraising events. 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.
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, Tyler Rice on the Banjo, 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 local bands and have performed at numerous Meltdown events in recent years. Now re-formed (and reformed!), Bluegrouse continues to evolve and have fun, with a rich sound that pushes musical boundaries and vibrates with soul-searching harmonies.
Carol Calkin, fiddle & vocals; Jonti Fox, bass & vocals; Laurie Swisher, guitar & vocals; Joni Vanderbilt, mandolin & vocals.
For Meltdown 2017, Lester Alex will fill-in on mandolin & vocals, while Joni takes a sabbatical exploring Celtic influences and sampling whiskey on the Emerald Isle.
“Bluesgrassy” is the term Secondhand Strings uses to describe their unique sound and style. A four-piece string acoustic band from the Four Corners, Harris Brogan, Justin Brown, Reuben Gallop, and Jeff Hibshman meld today’s new-grass funk with the roots of yesteryear’s blues and folk. Each member brings an eclectic range of influences and playing styles that is evident in the band’s original music.
Brown and Brogan originally formed Secondhand Strings as a duo and released, “Burdens” in February 2015, which led to performing an extensive schedule of shows throughout the Southwest. Hibshman, whose incredible musical background and performance resume, and Gallop’s unique banjo style and eagerness to produce new music completed the band’s current lineup.
Now a foursome, Secondhand Strings will release a new album “Western Wind” in September 2016, which resonates traditional string band themes such as whiskey and hard times with a modern musical approach that reflects the uniqueness of the band.
The Scrugglers are a regional nuveau grass band that emphasizes creativity and innovation while giving a respectful nod to the bluegrass founders and Colorado bluegrass music traditions. The core trio of Todd Webster (mandolin), Pat O’Halloran (banjo) and Steve Labowskie (2-string tub bass) create a unique faster paced sound which they have developed and evolved over years of playing campgrounds, bars and festival stages. The Scrugglers are known for a diverse set which is likely to include 80’s rock covers as their take on Monroe, Stanley or Hartford and of course Earl himself. Scruggler originals feature intricate banjo melodies on top of hard driving rhythm and all members contributing to the vocal melting pot. Colorado-style bluegrass bands such as Hot Rize, Leftover Salmon and Yonder are influences with sets that can be jam filled. The core trio forms a stable foundation to which other instruments/players can be added to expand the bands capabilities. The guys say that some of the best moments have been when they have had the opportunity to share the stage with their mentors and heroes like Benny “Burle” Galloway and Robin Davis.
Recent life changes outside the band and all the members not being in the same area has led to shows being more of a rare appearance. The guys still love to get back together for friends and fans at a few select festivals and venues where they have developed relationships over the years, including The Durango Bluegrass Meltdown. This year you can catch The Scrugglers with both main stage and nightgrass performances. The Scrugglers will have many guest musicians/friends joining them at this years performances including well known Summit County fiddler Jess Rose and other local Durango pickers.
StillHouse Junkies is Fred Kosak, Jeff Hibsman and Bruce Allsopp. Their paths happened to cross in Durango Colorado winter of ‘17. After months of being addicted to playing Fridays at Durango Craft Spirits, a local Distillery, a name emerged…a festival was booked…and another talented acoustic string band was turned loose. They are multi-instrumentalists, singers, songwriters, seasoned musicians who have turned their formidable skills and talents to the delicious, delirious deep wells and traditions of Roots, Rock, Blues, Funk, Jazz, Country and Bluegrass music. Sometimes they blend, sometimes they bend, sometimes they play it straight and true. But it’s always direct with deep respect to the heart of the song. With soulful singing, precision picking and plenty of improvisation every performance is fresh. With lots of energy they can wind it up and turn it loose or wind it down to the quiet of the space between notes where emotion lives. They know that music is the best medicine. So get addicted. It’ll cure you. It’s tasty. It’s delicious. It’s delirious. Don’t Miss. StillHouse Junkies.