2018 Durango Meltdown Lineup
April 20, 21, and 22, 2018
In 2016, Becky Buller was chosen to make bluegrass music history by becoming the first person ever to win in both instrumental and vocal categories at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards. That’s right, folks. EVER!
Becky is an overnight success story almost 20 years in the making. Her songs, on the lips of the industry’s best, preceded this fiery-haired fiddling St. James, Minn., native to prominence in the acoustic music world. Now audiences are connecting the composer with her compositions…to the tune of five IBMA awards in the last two years, including the 2016 Fiddler and Female Vocalist and 2015 Songwriter of the Year nods.
Reluctant as she might have been to start her own band, Becky had no qualms about entrusting her songs to the consummate artistry of Ricky Skaggs (“Music To My Ears”), Rhonda Vincent (“Fishers of Men”), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (“Be Living”), Josh Williams (“You Love Me Today”), Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (“My Angeline”, “Rest My Weary Feet”, “Cottontown”) and now The Infamous Stringdusters (“Freedom”), just to name a few.
Ned Luberecki, Dan Boner, Nate Lee, and Dwayne Anderson round out The Becky Buller Band…
Ned is a bluegrass legend, incredible banjo picker, and music educator. He was a member of Paul Adkins & The Borderline Band, The Rarely Herd and, most recently, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers for over a decade. He has pioneered on-air instruction with his popular “More Banjo Sunday” and “The Sunday Banjo Lesson” on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction, where he also hosts the regular newgrass show, “Derailed.”
Dan Boner, guitar, is the director of the Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program at East Tennessee State University. Dan’s music can be heard on dozens of bluegrass recordings, including his own 2007 solo release The Gospel Way. Dan is a 2015 IBMA Mentor of the Year award nominee.
Nate Lee, mandolin, is an IBMA award-winning instrumentalist and renowned teacher of private lessons and music camps. Nate has toured with Alan Munde, Irene Kelley, Town Mountain, and the Jim Hurst Trio.
Already a veteran of the bluegrass road, Dwayne Anderson performed with several bands during the last decade, most notable being his five-year stint with Darin and Brooke Aldridge, which is when Becky became acquainted with his playing. Dwayne graduated from East Tennessee State University with a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Bluegrass, Old-Time & Country Music Studies. While there, he was a member of the Bluegrass Pride Band, studied under Barry Bales and was the first recipient of the Kiser Memorial Bluegrass Scholarship. Dwayne can be heard on several recordings from Darin and Brooke Aldridge, as well as albums by the Twilight Broadcasters, Alex Hibbits, Prof. Dan Boner, various ETSU bands and many others. By day, Dwayne is senior software engineer at King University in Bristol, Tenn. He and his wife, Elizabeth, make their home in Blountville, Tenn.
A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist and award winning songwriter with a distinctive voice, Molly Tuttle has turned the heads of even the most seasoned industry professionals. Since her performing debut at age 11, she has been featured on the cover of Acoustic Guitar Magazine (April 2017) and Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, and graduated from the Berklee College of Music, which she attended on a Hazel Dickens Memorial Scholarship.
Her lovely voice, impeccable and fiery guitar playing, and sensitive song writing make Molly Tuttle a star on the rise.She has toured extensively and has been featured on many prominent festivals including Rocky Grass Festival, Wintergrass Festival, and many others, and received a 2016 IBMA Momentum Award as Instrumentalist, singling her out as one to watch in the genre. 2017 has seen even more growth, with the release of Tuttle’s solo debut EP, Rise, debuting at #2 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart and garnering prominent features for Tuttle in Premier Guitar Magazine, Guitar Player Magazine, and NPR Music. In September 2017, Tuttle was recognized as the 2017 Guitar Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), becoming the first woman to receive this honor in the history of the organization.
Born in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains, springing to life with all the zest and zeal you’d expect from a 1940s-style Tennessee bluegrass band, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys have rambled far from home, touring throughout the United States and Europe.
Yet, these four friends – C.J. Lewandowski (Vocals, Mandolin), Jereme Brown (Vocals, Banjo), Josh ‘Jug’ Rinkel (Vocals, Guitar) and Jasper Lorentzen (Bass) – remain close to their musical roots by cranking out some of the tightest and hardest-driving traditional bluegrass you’ll find anywhere.
“We want to be known for keeping the old music alive, and making some new music that’s still close to the roots,” says Lewandowski, a native Missourian who is the group’s eldest member as well as its lead singer and mandolin player. “A tree can’t stand without its roots. So we are just trying to keep those roots alive. We want to complement and not take away.”
“We want to take the best from all the bluegrass pioneers,” added Brown, the band’s youngest member and a fourth-generation banjo player whose own roots include a grandmother raised just a stone’s throw from Bill Monroe’s hometown of Rosine, Ky. “That’s why C.J. plays the Monroe-style mandolin, and I play a Ralph Stanley-style banjo. It all ties together. It works.”
It works, all right. It works like a Missouri mule. Just ask the band’s fast-growing legion of fans. Whether they’re playing a standard by bluegrass giants Bill Monroe or Ralph Stanley or a new heartbreaker penned by rhythm guitarist Rinkel, there’s an unmistakable energy to it. The hard-driving bass pounds like a jackhammer as it keeps time; the melodic rhythm hooks you deep with the first note and doesn’t let go until the last playful note of the banjo.
“We are all on the same musical footing,” says Lewandowski. “We’re all big into rhythm and timing, so we build off of that.”
Mile Twelve is a fresh, hard driving young band beautifully walking the line between original and traditional bluegrass. Fast gaining recognition for their outstanding performances in bluegrass and folk circles, Evan Murphy, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Nate Sabat, BB Bowness and David Benedict write captivating songs and daring instrumental pieces from diverse influences. Banjo luminary Tony Trischka says, “Mile Twelve is carrying the bluegrass tradition forward with creativity and integrity.”
Since their formation in the fall of 2014, Mile Twelve has quickly been on the rise. They’ve performed extensively throughout the U.S., Ireland and Canada, including sets at major festivals such as Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, FreshGrass Festival, Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival, and Joe Val Bluegrass Festival. Their music is in rotation on the Bluegrass Junction Sirius XM channel, and their rendition of the Stanley Brothers classic “Our Last Goodbye” was featured on a Spotify “Fresh Bluegrass” playlist. The band was the winner of the 2017 Momentum Award by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Mile Twelve released their debut full-length record “Onwards”, (Oct. 27, 2017) produced by Stephen Mougin.
“In recent years, Boston’s Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory have added extra fire to that city’s already churning cauldron of traditional string players. Out of this spicy soup jumps Mile Twelve, a group of five accomplished bluegrass musicians who write, sing, and play like the wind. Serious players who have serious fun, Mile Twelve is a group to watch in the coming decade.” – Tim O’Brien
“Mile Twelve’s instrumental skills reflect natural abilities enhanced by serious study of bluegrass tradition and a fearless desire to create fresh pathways. From the opening number of their new EP, it’s plain that their vocal skills are equal to their picking prowess. Their trio blend is as tight as it gets. Their duo and solo singing is equally praiseworthy. The arrangements often surprise with subtle twists and turns… delicious false endings, dropped beats, arco bass and fiddle duets, and on and on. Mile Twelve is carrying the tradition forward with creativity and integrity.” – Tony Trischka
“Mile Twelve has Bluegrass’ best interests at heart. Really good songs that mean something, picking that makes you grin and twitch, plenty of scalp-zinging moments… what more could you ask for America’s best drivin’ music? I’d be fine sending this to aliens.” – Darol Anger
When did country music start to sound the same? The first generation of country artists borrowed from everything around them: Appalachian stringband music, Texas fiddle traditions, cowboy songs, Delta blues. In an era of unprecedented access to our musical pasts, shouldn’t country music be even more diverse than it was in its infancy? Honky-tonk supergroup Western Centuries, back with a new album in 2018, surely understands this. They aren’t bound by any dictum to write songs in a modern country, or even a retro country style; instead they’re taking their own personal influences as three very different songwriters and fusing it into a sound that moves beyond the constraints of country. Part of the reason they can make music with this range of influences is because of their roots in city life. Both Cahalen Morrison and Ethan Lawton, two of the three principal songwriters, live in Seattle’s diverse South end, and the third songwriter, Jim Miller, spends most of his time in and around New York City. The urban landscape is rarely mentioned in country music, but it makes for a refreshing sound that draws as easily from modern R&B as it does George Jones. It helps too that the album was recorded and co-produced by acclaimed musician and Grammy-winning producer Joel Savoy in Eunice, Louisiana, where local Cajun and Creole artists have always been adept at marrying old country sounds with R&B and rock n roll.
With Songs from the Deluge, out April 6, 2018 on Free Dirt Records, Western Centuries brings three songwriting voices together into a more unified sound than ever before. Over the past year of heavy touring (since the release of their last album), they’ve pushed each other hard as songwriters. But with a band this well tested on the road, it’s the sonic and lyrical places where each artist’s styles depart that’s most interesting.
Ethan Lawton, known for his earlier work in Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers, loves to pen imaginative parables about people living at extremes. “Wild You Run” by Lawton tells the story of watching someone you love deteriorate with a crippling addiction. The subject chases his temptation, but loses his soul as Lawton cries out helplessly “I won’t tell mama what you done, go have your fun….” Lawton’s “My Own Private Honky Tonk” is a rambunctious new take on the drinkin’ alone narrative which finds Lawton dancing and playing music until the downstairs neighbors call. It’s a boogie-woogie flavored tune à la Fats Domino that highlights the upright bass work of Nokosee Fields, the band’s newest member. With the opening track, “Far From Home,” Lawton wails “mother, dear mother, won’t you spin a yarn about the way things were.” It’s about the dark days that young men found abroad in Vietnam and the personal wars they had to fight when they returned back home.
Cahalen Morrison, known for his earlier duo work with Eli West, is the country boy to Lawton’s urban cowboy, inspired by his love for cowboy poetry and the New Mexican desert where he grew up. He’s got a knack for bending words around stories until they’re as funny as they are tragic, as fantastic as they are real. His songs grow like mesquite in the desert; they twist and turn. On “Earthly Justice,” Morrison sings of barflys and their troubles, remarking sardonically “if earthly justice just don’t get them in the end, there’s always a heavenly trial on its way” as vocal harmonies and pedal steel two step all around him. On Morrison’s album closer “Warm Guns,” he waxes quixotic about loss in love, singing in Spanish about being a victim of his own flaws.
Jim Miller, known for his earlier work with Donna the Buffalo, is the resident psychedelic poet. Like the best country songwriters, Miller’s sense of communion with nature turns his songs into works of magical realism. On “Wild Birds”, a song about a road-bound band, he consults the moss, befriends the tide, and survives fire all while asking for prayers to guide his band home to the end of their migration. “Borrow Time” features Louisiana accordion legend Roddie Romero, and the album’s best harmonies between the three lead singers. Some of his most beautiful lines happen on “Time Does The Rest” as he sings “Your heart knows what’s best / Hold her close, the lips will confess / Let it rise let it fall, time does the rest”.
Western Centuries’ music crosses vastly differing geographies–the city, the southwest, the metaphysical. And their musical influences are equally as diverse. Together, they weave a tapestry of western music, without sacrificing their hard-earned country dancehall sound. Songs from the Deluge will levitate heavy hearts, turn spilled beer into ballads, and bring country music home as literate, epic odysseys from parts unknown.
James Reams has been a bluegrass bandleader for over 20 years. Coming from a family of traditional singers in southeastern Kentucky, James has played both old-time and bluegrass music since he was just a little sprout. James is known as an “ambassador of Bluegrass” for his dedication to and deep involvement in the thriving bluegrass and Americana music community. To date, he has released nine CDs including a special DVD documentary about the band. His 2016 release, Rhyme & Season, is receiving high acclaim. In 2002, his self-titled album featuring Walter Hensley received an IBMA nomination for Recording Event of the Year and earned James an IBMA nomination as Emerging Artist of the Year. A single (Almost Hear the Blues) from his 2011 CD, One Foot in the Honky Tonk, charted nationally and the CD made 2 Top Ten Lists of 2011. His original songs are important additions to the bluegrass repertoire, keeping this tradition alive with contemporary issues and new sounds. And he’s no slouch on the guitar either! His guitar playing was highlighted in Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s “Masters of Rhythm Guitar” column.
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.
Bluegrass has become a mainstay in Colorado. The music of the mountains speaks to us and we can feel it in our souls. When a band like Wood Belly comes along to channel it, the clear blue skies are the limit. Led by a pair of prolific songwriters, their songs are carefully and collectively crafted to ring out with honesty and passion. Wood Belly blends traditional bluegrass with modern songwriting and whether you’re spinning around your partner or hanging on every word, the result is the same. You’re left smiling and wanting to hear more.
The band was born when Chris Weist (Mandolin) met Craig Patterson (Guitar) and Chris Zink (Dobro) at the Rockygrass Festival in 2015. Within a year they had teamed up with Aaron McCloskey(Banjo) and Taylor Shuck (Bass) and the music immediately fell into place.
The Blue Canyon Boys are equal parts purists and innovators when it comes to bluegrass: they stay true to the form’s roots while constantly reimagining their relationship to tradition. The result is a toe-tapping mix of haunting standards, genre-bending arrangements, and catchy original numbers—all built on the bedrock of their collective bluegrass mastery.
They bring it all: seamless brother-duet style, crisp instrumentation, unvarnished lyrics and subversive humor. After winning first place at the 2008 Telluride Bluegrass festival band contest, the Blue Canyon Boys went off at full tilt, taking the bluegrass circuit by storm, performing in illustrious venues across the country as well as internationally.
Their distinctive sound, honed from over a decade of performing together, moves easily from instrumental wizardry to playful ribbing. Whether calling on their old timey musical roots or reconnoitering the future, the band’s musical prowess never wavers. This is high lonesome sound at its best: a driving pulse that weaves through harmonies and fierce rhythms, always with the reminder that as long as the music plays we are never quite alone.
The seasoned quartet features Gary Dark on mandolin, Jason Hicks on guitar, Drew Garrett on bass, and Zach Daniels on banjo. Their latest album, eponymously called The Blue Canyon Boys, is perhaps their most polished and poignant yet. Classic bluegrass, clean and raw, blends effortlessly with the band’s homegrown compositions, then peppered with a judicious cover or two, such as the band’s riveting take on Pink Floyd’s “Time.”
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.
“Holy friggin’ harmonies! It’s almost distracting how good the vocals are on the Ginny Mules debut release” (Marquee Magazine, 2016). Recognized as finalists in the renowned Rockygrass Festival band competition in 2017, Ginny Mules are setting sail, and charting a course that is all their own. Drawing from varied elements of American music and heritage, each member brings their own blend of Appalachian music, Blues, Folk & Bluegrass to the table. The end result sounds a lot like BLUESGRASS, with a focus on tight vocal harmonies and the raw, bluesier elements that give Ginny Mules their distinctive sound. According to Copple, “it’s like Bluegrass with a little extra stank on it.”
With their debut, self-titled album from 2016 garnering weekly spins on Bluegrass radio programs near and far, The Mules are setting their sights on a sophomore release full of original songs, scheduled for 2018! It’s sure to follow the same roadmap as their debut, which includes signature instrumental work and unique original songs that carry the “high lonesome sound” into a new era.
The band first began to coalesce when, Liz Forster (guitar and vocals) met Keenan Copple, the band’s banjo and slide guitar player at a Denver music store in 2013. The pair began playing music together almost immediately. Weekly jam nights with Keenan, Liz and Phil Hanceford (mandolin and vocals) materialized, and the trio began the epic quest for a bass player. On a friend’s recommendation, they called on Carbondale native, Sheena Gruber. Forster says, “We caught a lucky break with Sheena. She plays terrific bass, looks and sings like Bonnie Raitt, and is a great fit for us vibe-wise.” Rebekah Durham (Juilliard grad and former member of San Fermin), joined the band in 2016 and rounded out the official lineup of Ginny Mules with her incredible 5-string fiddling and original songwriting.
With 4 out of 5 Mules writing songs for the band, and 5 out of 5 Mules working collaboratively on arrangements, their sound really is unique – though they do draw frequent (and flattering) comparisons to The Steeldrivers for their hard driving, bluesy and fiddle-forward stylings. Ginny Mules have shared the stage (or festival lineup) with many of their friends and heroes alike – including: The Steeldrivers, Wood and Wire, The Traveling McCoury’s, Rapidgrass, Della Mae and Mipso (to name a few). Keep an eye out for these Mules as they venture out of Colorado and make their way to your town. As they like to say…Giddy up! #mule2ride
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.
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.
The Badly Bent has been Durango’s hometown bluegrass band for almost 20 years. Throughout the history of The Badly Bent, our audiences have seen us change and evolve. This year’s lineup of the band is no exception. The band members are Mark Epstein (banjo, vocals), Fred Kosak (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Cody Tinnin (bass, vocals), and Kyle Schoonover (dobro). We have evolved our repertoire to be able to highlight the talents of this band. There are quite a few Badly Bent ‘classics’ as well as a fresh array of songs from a variety of artists, including several new original songs.
Yes, this isn’t your father’s Badly Bent but come give a listen to experience the evolution of local Durango bluegrass.
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.
StillHouse Junkies… Fred Kosak, Alissa Wolf, Cody Tinnin, 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.
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.
The Bar D Wranglers are a western music-singing group from the Bar D Chuckwagon Suppers in Durango, Colorado. The group has performed for over 2.5 million guests at their Durango location as well as countless other stages and venues around the United States. The group began performing at the Bar D Chuckwagon in June of 1969 and continues the tradition nightly throughout the summer months. When the Bar D Wranglers take their show on the road, they perform the classic cowboy- western music for which they are so well-known, as well as award-winning instrumental and comedy songs and crowd-pleasing stories that will delight the entire family. The Bar D Wranglers include Gary Cook is a two-time national flat pick champion guitar player and sings tenor, Matt Palmer plays a hot fiddle and sings baritone, Joel Racheff sings funny and plays the upright bass, Richard Espinoza sings lead vocals and plays rhythm guitar. We hope you enjoy the show as much as the Wranglers enjoy performing for you!
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 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!
Old time played straight up since 2017. After attending old time jams in the area for many years, the four of us decided to take it further and become a band. Our love of old time music featuring traditional fiddle and banjo styles creates the core sound with songs of love, betrayal, disaster and murder here and there…for good measure!
Kathryn Lunsford on fiddle, Nick Lawrence on clawhammer banjo, Russell Hooten on guitar and Michael Burke on mandolin make up the group. All are happy to call the Four Corners home and delighted to make our first appearance at the 24th Durango Bluegrass Meltdown.
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!