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Kudzoo "Brothers’ add a sister

SUMMIT COUNTY – The Kudzoos don’t die easily – just like the Asian vine the musicians named themselves after.

“Kudzu is a vine that grows prolifically,” said banjo player Bill Sneed. “We named ourselves the Kudzoo Brothers (at first) because we had a brotherhood of music, and we just felt like, one, you couldn’t really kill us and two, eventually, we would grow on you.”

The Kudzoo Brothers formed in 1992 as Sneed and Stephen Kearley played guitar around a campfire. After a two-year stint in Austin, Texas, between 1994 and 1996, they returned to Summit County and added Mike Frantin. Frantin played guitar, but the brothers used bluegrass instruments in the band, so Frantin picked up the mandolin, satisfying fans’ needs for fast-picking licks.



“People started calling us a bluegrass band, but we never felt like we were,” Sneed said. “We never set out to be a bluegrass band. We just wanted to use bluegrass instrumentation.”

In the fall of 2000, the trio hired Ethan Allen, a sound engineer and producer who has worked with Ani DiFranco, Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin, to tighten up an album it recorded. The trio released “Time Around Again” in March 2001, then added Craig “Doc PJ” Perrinjaquet, a bass player and local general practitioner, to the band.



Just as the outfit was making a name for itself – opening for Peter Rowan, David Wilcox and the Sam Bush Band, playing at the Swallow Hill in Denver and performing at music festivals – Kearley moved to Austin in September with his fiancee.

Sneed, Doc PJ and Mike Frantin had a decision to make – continue, or let the brotherhood die. They dropped the “Brothers” from their name and added a sister, Beth Blunt.

“It became obvious real soon that she had the best voice in the band,” Sneed said.

Blunt, who sang in an all-female acappella group in college and sang with the jazz group Counterpoint in Summit County, adds strong harmonies and an upbeat stage presence to the Kudzoos.

She sings Kearley’s tunes, softening the sound. She also brings a little bit of country and more funk and blues to the mix.

“In some ways, having one less member has cleaned up our sound a little bit,” Sneed said.

With the new lineup, the Kudzoos are rooting themselves even more firmly.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com

Kudzoos perform to benefit recycling:

BRECKENRIDGE – Ever throw a party for 250 people without throwing away a speck of garbage? The Summit Recycling Project intends to have a zero-waste event with its 14th annual Tim McClure Memorial Benefit, featuring the Kudzoos and an Italian dinner buffet.

“We’re testing our own ability to reduce waste,” said Carly Wier, director of Summit Recycling Project. “We’re striving for a zero-waste event.”

To achieve their goal, organizers won’t print tickets and will compost all food waste from meal preparation and leftovers. They’ll also add up the total miles the 250 guests drove and plant the appropriate amount of trees to offset the carbon dioxide created by driving to the party. The crew plans to plant the trees as part of the reorganization of the Breckenridge drop-off center this fall.

In addition to dinner and entertainment by the Kudzoos and the Mountain Gypsy Belly Dancers, a silent auction offers about 200 items from local businesses. It also showcases environment-friendly businesses, including the Moose Jaw and Alpine Natural Foods. Earth-friendly items range from wind chimes made from ski poles to a basket made out of telephone wires.

The fund raiser honors McClure, the founder of the Summit Recycling Center, who died in an avalanche in 1983.

Tickets are $15 ($7.50 for kids) and include the Italian dinner buffet. Beer and wine also are available. For more information, call (970) 668-5703.

Event: 14th annual Tim McClure memorial benefit for Summit Recycling Project

When: 7-10 p.m. today

Where: Bergenhof Restaurant (Base of Peak 8), Breckenridge. 


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