Bluegrass band hopes you like jamming, too
It could have been the slogan for a movie: Taylor Sins had it all figured out until he picked up the hitchhiker who changed his life.
But rather than a romantic comedy or a horror movie, the result turned out to be a musical: Alex Johstone became the fourth member of Spring Creek. The bluegrass band plays a free show at the Spur Bar and Grill Thursday at 9:30 p.m.
The group’s first album was appropriately titled "Rural and Cosmic."
"I wasn’t looking for a mandolin player," Sins said. "I just picked him up and we started talking. It wasn’t soon after that we realized we could really pursue something together."
Sins, who had been fishing with his dad in Gunnison County, Colo., convinced Johnstone to join him, Jessica Smith and Chris Eliot at a nearby dude ranch to play shows three nights a week for tourists.
"Playing that much really helped us hone our skills," Sins said. "Most bands have a gig once a week or once every couple weeks, but we got a lot more practice than that. We had sort of a built-in audience."
That was four years ago. Today, Spring Creek is coming off the success of winning the 2007 Telluride Bluegrass Festival and the Rocky Grass competition in Lyons, Colo.
"We were the first band in history of the festival circuit to win both in the same year," Sins glowed "It gave us a lot of momentum and let people hear us who wouldn’t have heard us otherwise."
Relative unknowns a year ago, Spring Creek catapulted to the top of festival lineups. The band plays 16 festivals this summer across the Mountain West and has garnered enough recognition to sell four different T-shirts, stickers and posters of themselves.
"It kind of iterates he fact that we’re having success," Sins said. "People are buying different kinds of stuff. They’re willing to wear something with your name on it."
Sins said the real boon of winning the festival was making more music, not more merchandise.
Spring Creek released its second album, also with the hint of a hitchhiker-inspired theme, called "Lonesome Way To Go" March 1.
The recording session was the first time the band had worked with a producer. "This time it was more professional. We had a producer there to say this is really good or this sucks. With "Rural and Cosmic" we didn’t really have our studio legs. It took us a while to figure out who we were in the studio."
Sins, Smith, Eliot and Johnstone each wrote at least one song for the 12-track album. "One of the big things that I think separates us from other bands is we’re the original four members," Sins said. "We’re really great friends. We have a certain chemistry as friends that keeps us fresh. Since we’ve built a relationship with each other that comes across in our physical sound."
Sins, Smith and Eliot met at South Plains College in Texas, where Sins grew up listening to country and later folk music. In addition to original songs, the band plays Elton John and Beatles songs in traditional bluegrass style. "We still hold true to the traditional style," he said. "We’re not a jam band."
The Spur’s manager Casey Metzger said Spring Creek’s unique sound caught his attention. "They’re great," he said. "I’m just excited to put the music out there for people to hear. There aren’t too many places in Park City you can go hear music like this."
What: Spring Creek Bluegrass Band
Where: The Spur Bar and Grill
When: Thursday, June 12 at 9:30 p.m.
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