Bluegrass band One Ton Pig to make Carl’s Tavern debut in Steamboat on Thursday |

Bluegrass band One Ton Pig to make Carl’s Tavern debut in Steamboat on Thursday

Luke Graham

One Ton Pig

One Ton Pig, from Jackson Hole, Wyo., will play a free show at 10 p.m. Thursday at Carl's Tavern.

— For Justin Smith and his Jackson Hole, Wyo., band One Ton Pig, the idea always has been to start small and see where it goes.

The six-person bluegrass band began seven years ago in the Wyoming ski town and now prepares for its first gig at Carl's Tavern in Steamboat Springs. The free show is at 10 p.m. Thursday.

The band hasn't had to permanently leave the picturesque town of Jackson because of the budding and sustaining music culture there, Smith said. Smith, who doubles as a manager at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, said one of the alluring aspects of Jackson is that musicians there get paid pretty well.

"Talking to people in the studio in Denver that are just coming out of school, I tell them to come to Jackson Hole and they'll pay you," he said. "These kids think they have got to pay the dues in the city."

For One Ton Pig, the strategy seems to be paying off. Similar to String Cheese Incident, the band grew its following in a ski town and now is seeing that fanbase grow.

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The band tours through Colorado and Utah and has dates lined up in Montana in the future. But it still stays true to its roots, playing every Tuesday night at the Silver Dollar Bar in Jackson.

The band's first set appeases the tourists, and the second set gets rowdy. One Ton Pig has moved away from covers and now plays nearly an entire set of original music.

With a loyal following at the Silver Dollar, One Ton Pig has more than 70 songs it can play in live sets.

The Silver Dollar is "proving grounds," Smith said. "We have to keep it interesting to ourselves."

After two live albums that were more uptempo and didn't feature a ton of congruency, the band came out with the self-titled "One Ton Pig" in 2012.

The first studio album was much more refined and had a clear direction, something Smith said has involved the band getting more serious and thinking about the bigger picture.

Of course, nothing is better than live music.

Smith said they'll probably skip the slow first set at Carl's Tavern on Thursday, instead getting right into things.

"We're hungry to get out of Jackson, get on the road," he said. "We've got four in a row on this trip. We're going to bring it. We've got a tight show and tight set. We'll have some good food, a couple drinks and be off and running."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email