P o u r i n g into K e y s t o n e
KEYSTONE – A few old-time bluegrass lovers have complained Keystone’s Bluegrass and Beer Festival has lost its down-home, foot-stompin’ feel with the introduction of newgrass, but most people think the variety of live music appeals to a larger audience – and then, there’s always the beer.
“I don’t know anywhere else that offers the opportunity to taste three different beers from 27 microbreweries, be in a beautiful mountain setting, listen to bluegrass and newgrass, and have the ESPN lumberjack competition in the parking lot,” Keystone special events manager Elizabeth Tobias said. “We have something for everybody. I think it’s a huge Colorado draw because Colorado people know microbrews. Even people who don’t like beer come and enjoy it.”
More than 25 Colorado microbreweries showcase three of their finest hops and barley blends this weekend. Local breweries include the Backcountry Brewery, Breckenridge Brewery, Dillon Dam Brewery, Great Northern Tavern and Pug Ryan’s Steak House Brewery.
Unlimited samples of the microbrews, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, cost $15 per day and include a commemorative glass. For the second year, $3 beers are available from noon-5 p.m. in the Silvermill Courtyard’s beer garden.
Plenty of food booths, featuring restaurants in River Run, will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Mollie O’Brien kicks off the festival at 7:30 p.m. today at the Park Lane Pavilion. Her strong and versatile vocal technique blends influences of old-time country and gospel music from her childhood in West Virginia – a sassy, improvisational style she picked up during a stint in New York – with the folksy sound of the wide open West, where she now resides.
“I don’t think of myself as a blues singer or a folk singer or a bluegrass singer,” O’Brien said. “I think of myself as an interpreter. I’ve done lots of acting, and it’s only when you’ve learned your lines and your blocking that you can go out of the envelope. That’s how I learn tunes. I learn them backwards and forwards and try them in all different keys, so I can learn how far I can stretch them. You can’t take chances until you really know where you are, and taking chances is what’s fun.
“I’m putting my own stamp on the music,” she said. “Someone else may have written the song, but no one will sing it the way I sing it.”
Tickets are $8 and may be purchased at the pavilion or by calling (970) 496-4FUN.
Keystone’s oldest event, the fiddle contest, was the precursor to the entire Bluegrass and Beer Festival. Fiddlers of various age groups compete in the waltz, rag, breakdown, hornpipe and a tune of their choice as if they bet the devil. The contest runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Park Lane Pavilion.
Lumberjacks from around the region test their skills in cross cut, ax throw, accuracy fall, large class speed cut and relay in head-to-head competitions from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the Montezuma parking lot.
Sponsored by Stihl power tools and Woodcraft Homes in Breckenridge, the competition is open to all men and women who want more power.
The McCloskey Brothers Band
The McCloskey Brothers Band brings its rockin’ version of bluegrass to the beer garden from 1-5 p.m. Saturday and to the Park Lane Pavilion at 4 p.m. Monday.
Raised in Aspen, Todd and David McCloskey draw upon the inspiration of nature to celebrate life through music.
“A lot of our songs vary,” David McCloskey said. “It’s original art. It’s original music, going more toward rock ‘n’ roll but with a bluegrass instrumentation. It’s kind of acoustic rock with a bluegrass influence.”
Singer and songwriter Todd McCloskey takes mandolin and violin playing to new heights, while his brother picks the banjo like no one else. Steve Roseboom and Dan Menchey add the essential groove with bass and drums, respectively.
“We’ve been known to get a little crazy on stage,” David McCloskey said. “I’ve been known to double up on drums, and we’ll go into the crowd and dance with people.”
Single Malt Band
The Single Malt Band twists British ballads into a bluegrass groove and throws in some Celtic, folk and acoustic-rock for good measure.
“It’s a new take on a Celtic, British sound,” guitarist and vocalist Jeff Hamer said. The band sets traditional ballads – and even a few glam-rock covers – to a bluegrass orchestration.
“We do a lot of old folk music that we’ve dug up from all these archives and give it a modern edge,” said fiddle and mandolin player Jordan Moretti.
The band plays from 12:45-2:15 p.m. Saturday and from 4:15-6 p.m. Sunday at the Events Plaza main stage.
Marty Jones and the Pork Boilin’ Poor Boys
The raw sounds of back-porch music stomp on stage from 4:15-6 p.m. Saturday and 2:30-4 p.m. at the Events Plaza main stage with Marty Jones and the Pork Boilin’ Poor Boys.
“These days we refer to our music as barn rock,” Jones said. “Our band is based on vintage country forms updated with a good dose of rock ‘n’ roll, energy and irreverent humor. We do great weepers, but we also do a lot of foot-stompin’, let’s-have-fun kind of music.”
Drummer Wilbur, the backbone of the group, whips up a huge portion of humor, while Chuck Wagon pounds out good old trashing acoustic guitar rhythm. Soapy Argyle adds clever lyrics to Jones’ homespun bass, fashioned from a washtub, a closet rod and weed-eater cord.
Raised on Rhubarb
Raised on Rhubarb brings its alternative bluegrass sounds to the main stage from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
“We continue to add new, original music, which separates us from other bluegrass bands that play the same tunes,” lead vocalist Scott Atchison said. “It’s rooted in bluegrass as far as instrumentation goes, but we’re not afraid to step outside and incorporate jazz and blues tunes.”
Originated in 1995, the band reunited in May after a two-year hiatus. Fiddle player Bobby Krech joined originators Atchison and Dean Misantoni as the newest member a few months ago. Breckenridge resident Dan Bednarski adds a twist to the bluegrass sound with his accordion and harmonica, and Frisco resident Paul Waitinas rounds out the band on bass.
“The lure of bluegrass-type music is the mandolin driving the rhythm,” Misantoni said.
Yonder Mountain String Band
Nederland-based Yonder Mountain String Band plays like an old-time band would: using instruments other than drums to create a danceable groove.
The band members call their brand of high-energy bluegrass “drive without the drums.” Though they stick to a more traditional sound in contrast to most newgrass bands, they use fast-picking and improvisation to keep shows fresh and attract a wide-ranging fan base.
Known for its legendary late-night jams, which have been known to go until 6:30 a.m., Yonder Mountain String Band creates a powerful frenzy on the dance floor.
The band plays at 7 p.m. Monday at the Park Lane Pavilion. Tickets are $18 and may be purchased by calling (970) 496-4FUN.
The rest of the scene
The Stanleytones perform from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday and from 12:45-2:15 p.m. Sunday on the main stage, and Pagosa Hot Strings plays from 2:30-4 p.m. Saturday. All main stage shows are free.
Kids’ activities are available at Kidz Zone for $5 per child. No dogs are allowed at the festival.
A portion of the proceeds from the festival will benefit Mile High United Way, Summit Middle School Foreign Language Club and Keystone Culinary Apprenticeship Program.
For more information, call (800) 427-8308 or visit http://www.keystoneresort.com.
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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