Q&A with Summit County band The Pine Beatles
IF YOU GO
What: Keystone Winter Bluegrass Weekend
When: Saturday, Jan. 23
Where: Warren Station, River Run in Keystone
Cost: Single Night Advance Ticket Online: $15 adults, $10 kids twelve and under. Single ticket at the door: $20 Adults, $15 kids 12 and under. Kids 5 and under are free. For tickets visit warrenstation.com.
7 p.m.: The Pine Beatles
8:15 p.m.: Caribou Mountain Collective
9:30 p.m.: Rapidgrass
Local band The Pine Beatles has been taking the stage at the annual Keystone Winter Bluegrass Weekend since its inception five years ago. As a band that plays weddings and parties around the county, guitarist Ben Brewer said the festival is a unique opportunity for the band to get on a bigger stage. The band works on new music every year for the festival that they will use throughout the rest of the year. The Pine Beatles will play on Saturday, Jan. 23 before Caribou Mountain Collective at this year’s bluegrass festival.
Summit Daily News: How and when did you first get started as a band?
Ben Brewer: It was 2007, and someone asked us to play for a private party. We’ve known each other for many years, and we had a monthly potluck dinner at Dr. PJ’s house, where we all brought our instruments and would just play after dinner. … The band really started out of just jamming together after the potluck. People liked it and people would come, and then one time someone asked us to come to their party and play and so we did, that was kind of how the band started. Really easy, kind of organically that way. None of us are professional musicians, we all have day jobs. We really are the band that just likes to get together and play music together.
SDN: How would you describe your music, as traditional bluegrass or a variation of bluegrass?
BB: We are a variation of bluegrass. We have bluegrass songs that we play, but we also play classic rock covers, occasionally we’ll play folk and blues, so we have a lot of influences. We cover a lot of Grateful Dead songs. We have traditional bluegrass influences, but we are not what you’d call a real traditional bluegrass band. … We try to get up there and play the music that we really like, that sort of speaks to us, and sometimes that’s not bluegrass, sometimes it’s music from our pasts, music that we are introduced to, in our contemporary lives. …
It’s kind of a democratic band, we sort of go around the circle and just say, listen, what would you like to play, and so someone tries a song out on the band and sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t. And so we try to play the songs that stick, and there’s really no formula to describe what sticks and what doesn’t. If it’s just the feel of the song or the cord structure sometimes has an influence, because if it’s too complicated it’s more difficult to learn and not quite as much fun to play. That’s kind of how it goes. We have a lot of staples that we keep going back to, we are going to play some of those, and we also have some news songs.
SDN: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment as a band?
BB: We’ve played some incredibly fun gigs. We’ve played the USA Pro Challenge, we’ve played some big gigs like that — for big audiences on big stages. One time we played Spring Fever for the (Breckenridge) ski area. It was a snowstorm, and we were warming up for a band called Cornmeal, a big bluegrass band, and they never showed up, they couldn’t make it over the pass. So we ended up playing the full two and a half hour set, with a driving snowstorm right in our face. So we’ve played a bunch of gigs like that, but I’d have to tell you our biggest accomplishment as a band is, first of all, playing this long together but still enjoying it. Really reveling in the act of coming together and playing music together — coming together around music. And one of my favorite memories as a band was we played for Marty Hibberd, who was a longtime Breckenridge local, she died … several years ago now. … Marty Hibberd was a gallery owner in Breckenridge and had lived here a long time, and we came together, obviously for free, and we stood around her bed, and she was very sick at the time, and we played for her and she sang along. That was an experience that really galvanized us and made me feel as though what we do as a band is worthwhile. I think she died about a week later. It was a very special experience.
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