Raised on Rhubarb growing strong
SUMMIT COUNTY – Raised on Rhubarb is a homegrown, mountain band, originated by Dean Misantoni, a miner from Alma, and Scott Atchison, a bed-and-breakfast owner.
The band grew out of the open mic scene in Summit County, beginning with a folksy sound, changing to traditional bluegrass, then delving into a hefty portion of alternative bluegrass tunes.
“Now it has sort of a new grass, alternative bluegrass sound,” lead vocalist Atchison said. “We continue to add new, original music, which separates us from other bluegrass bands that play the same tunes. It’s rooted in bluegrass as far as instrumentation goes, but we’re not afraid to step outside and incorporate jazz and blues tunes.”
Raised on Rhubarb began in 1995, then stopped playing gigs for nearly two years, from 2000-2002, because the members were too busy. Last summer, Misantoni and Atchison headed up to British Columbia and recorded their first CD.
“We’re both acoustic nuts, and we missed (playing),” songwriter Misantoni said. “We’re just a little more serious about it now. Our fans kept asking what happened to us, and I told Scott I’ve got to find a new career because eventually I’m going to get my fingers chopped off (working in Sweethome mine in Alma), and Scott looked at me jokingly and said, “I need a career, not a new career.'”
They released the CD in May and added three musicians to the band to play gigs. Breckenridge resident and fiddle player Bobby Krech is the newest member, a young, quick study originally from Arizona. Dan Bednarski, also of Breckenridge, adds a twist to the bluegrass sound with his accordion and harmonica.
“He adds a layer of color and variety to our tunes,” Atchison said.
Frisco resident and upright bassist Paul Waitinas rounds out the band.
“Paul brought something Raised on Rhubarb never had as far as a foundation,” Atchison said. “He was the final piece of the puzzle. It brings it all together.”
The band refuses to add a drummer, remaining true to an acoustic sound.
“The lure of bluegrass-type music is the mandolin driving the rhythm. The drummer changes the rootsiness of it,” Misantoni said. “We’re always going to be acoustic without drums.”
Misantoni writes tunes ranging in theme from sarcastic commentary on relationships to working his butt off in the mines. He has composed background and theme music for PBS and for the Discovery channels. He gets a kick out of the fact that most of his originals – and bluegrass tunes in general – tend to be about heartbreak, murders and cheating, yet the band often plays at weddings.
“(The songs) always sound happy, but when you start listening to the lyrics, they’re pretty dark. They’re anti-getting-married,” he said.
Dark tunes or not, he’s a driving force behind the band.
“Technically, Dean is a phenomenally creative source of instrumental tunes and lyrical tunes,” Atchison said. “Being able to sing tunes he writes definitely keeps me going. He cranks them out like no one else, and they’re quality stuff.”
“We just kind of gel when it comes to putting songs together. I’ll write it, and he’ll sing it better than I do, so I sing harmony behind him,” Misantoni said.
The band plays from 4-8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Western Safari Ranch between Fairplay and Como; at 9 p.m. Thursday at the Breckenridge Brewery; at 9 p.m. at the South Park Saloon in Alma; and at 11 a.m. at Keystone’s Bluegrass and Beer Festival.
For more information on the band, call (719) 836-2290, and look in the Daily for upcoming gigs.
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