One Ton Pig makes a tour stop Monday at Pug Ryan's in Dillon and again on Wednesday at The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco. The concerts are part of the group's first Colorado tour - a nine-cities-in-nine-days trip that includes Winter Park, Fort Collins, Steamboat Springs and Denver.
Based in Jackson Hole, Wyo., One Ton Pig has been a resident at the legendary Silver Dollar Bar for almost seven years, where the band plays what it calls "chicken-fried prison music," essentially "down-and-dirty outlaw country, bluegrass and Americana."
The group consists of Michael Batdorf and Justin Smith (both singers, songwriters and guitarists), Tim Farris (mandolin, vocals and songwriting), Matt Herron (fiddle), Andy Calder (bass) and Jason Baggett (drums).
The group's name came from a famous pig. "There was a 1-ton-pig in New York that passed away; his name was 'Big Norm.' It looked catchy and it popped out," Smith said.
Smith, who is from a ski town, reflected on High Country versus city audiences. Though the band is new to the touring scene, he pointed out that distances between music fans are diminishing due to the recent popularity of mountain-town beloved sounds like folk, country and bluegrass in the big music centers.
Some of the group's influences are Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Del McCoury. One Ton Pig shared the stage last year with McCoury's sons Rob and Ronnie and their band, The Travelin' McCourys, during an unusual set. "That was so unique. There was a private party; I was at this nice private home, with maybe 100 people," Smith said. Both bands were the musical acts for the evening and the host invited them to play a couple of songs together. They ended up giving an hour-and-a-half jam session as a 10-piece bluegrass orchestra. "We're a huge fan and we were just excited to be with them," he said.
One Ton Pig released its third album, a self-titled CD, last June, which includes contributions from bluegrass musicians Ross Martin and 2013 Grammy-nominee Matt Flinner. The group has performed at festivals such as Targhee Bluegrass Festival, Oyster Ridge, Sweet Pea and Jackson Hole Mountain Festival. It plans to keep touring in the winter and then return to Colorado for the Denver/Boulder/Summit County festival circuit in six months.
"We're stoked to come to Summit County's scene," Smith said. "It's fun to go to sister towns and check out the ski bums, mountain people. There are music lovers in the mountains," he said.