Rocking the bluegrass world |

Rocking the bluegrass world

KEYSTONE – Even though the McCloskey Brothers Band is well established in the bluegrass scene, having picked its way into such festivals as the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Music Festival and The Bluegrass and Beyond Festival, mandolinist Todd McCloskey said he isn’t really a bluegrass fan anymore.

“We’re morphing into an electric-rock sound,” said McCloskey, who also plays the violin. “We’re basically a rock ‘n’ roll band playing with the mandolin, banjo, drums, bass and keyboards. We rock hard with those instruments, which is unorthodox. Rock ‘n’ roll energy is what drives our music.”

Todd McCloskey and his younger brother, David, who plays the banjo, piano and guitar, grew up in Aspen, inspired by nature and bluegrass music.

“For about five or six years, we played bluegrass all day long,” Todd McCloskey said. “That’s all we did. Now I cannot believe (we played so much bluegrass.)”

About a year ago, the brothers formed the McCloskey Brothers Band with upright bassist Steve Roseboom and drummer Dan Menchey. Roseboom has played with Leftover Salmon’s Drew Emmitt, Vince Herman and Mark Van and Hot Rize’s Pete Wernick. Menchey toured with Mucis before joining the McCloskey Brothers Band.

Since then, the band has shared the stage with – or opened for – Phil Lesh, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush, Tony Rice, Yonder Mountain String Band, members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Ricky Skaggs, among others.

The band released its self-titled debut album last spring, updating classic bluegrass with rock and jazz sounds. The album captures influences from the Allman Brothers Band, Cat Stevens and Tom Petty, and the band delivers the lyrics and music from deep within its collective soul.

“Our intention is, we want to be instruments of the positive force, to be uplifting spirits,” Todd McCloskey said. “Music to me is just a tool for expression. The content is what’s important to me – the divine inspiration and the connection to love and peace and being a catalyst for that and letting that flow through me. Nature and the peaks and valleys of life (inspire me.) Nature is where I can get the widest perspective and the clearest view. I enjoy backpacking, skiing, mountain biking. I’m an emotional being, so I personally write what I’m feeling at the time.”

“A lot of our songs vary,” David McCloskey said. “It’s original art. It’s kind of acoustic rock with a bluegrass influence.”

With a variety of sounds, from hard-hitting, rhythmic tracks to slower, melodic, introspective tunes, the McCloskey Brothers Band offers something for everyone.

“Jam-band people totally dig the shows, but the bluegrass people dig it too, because we’re just pushing the boundaries with the instruments,” Todd McCloskey said. “A lot of hard rock people are digging it that we’re just electric. It’s really rock. That’s how I look at it.”

Along with a rockin’ sound comes a rockin’ attitude.

“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.”

If you missed the McCloskey Brothers Band at Keystone’s Bluegrass and Beer Festival, catch them at 9:30 p.m. today and Saturday at the Snake River Saloon in Keystone.

Kimberly Nicoletti may be reached by calling (970) 668-3998, ext 245, or by e-mail at

The McCloskey Brothers Band

? When: 9:30 p.m. today and Saturday, Sept. 28

? Where: Snake River Saloon, Keystone

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