Mountain Standard Time bluegrass group returns to Steamboat tonight
Steamboat Springs — When guitarist Stan Sutton thinks about life in the Mountain time zone, he thinks about his now-hometown of Nederland.
He thinks of Vince Herman, of Leftover Salmon, having parades down the middle of the street and thinks of the late-night picking sessions that help foster the expansion of roots music, including Sutton’s jam-grass band, appropriately named Mountain Standard Time.
“It’s a wacky little town, and there’s a strong sense of community and a lot of support for everybody’s music up there,” Sutton said.
And like many people inhabiting their namesake time zone, the six men of Mountain Standard Time are not originally from the area.
“We all have our own reasons why we came to Colorado,” Sutton said about his band mates, who hail from Alaska, California, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. “We’re all transplants, but this is our home.”
The band returns to Steamboat to play a show at 9:30 p.m. today at Old Town Pub. Tickets are $5 at the door.
The band comprises Sutton on guitar, mandolin and vocals; Nick Dunbar on mandolin, guitar and vocals; Adam Pause on banjo and vocals; Curly Collins on the electric bass; Kyle Stersic on saxophone and electronic wind instrument; and Zack Scott on drums.
That lineup has been together for about a year; the original three, Sutton, Collins and Pause, got together three years ago. In that short period of time, they’ve kept busy.
Playing about 100 shows a year and making appearances at big festivals including Summer Camp, in Illinois, and Wakarusa, in Arkansas, the group found its niche in the ever-blossoming jam music fan base on the Front Range.
They take party-friendly mountain grass in their own direction, adding elements of jazz — with a saxophone and electronic wind instrument — and incorporating electronic and world influences into what Sutton called bluegrass fusion.
“We like to draw from all of our influences and incorporate that with a bluegrass foundation,” he said. “Song to song, you can get different genres of music, from a Latin groove, to a trance-y sort of jam to just straight-ahead-sounding bluegrass.”
When Sutton moved to Colorado, he was a straight rock guitarist. But life in Nederland offered him a new outlet when he fell in love with bluegrass rhythms.
“It just lends itself to a lighter, happier vibe as far as show-going goes,” Sutton said about bluegrass. “It can be intense in areas, but it resolves itself. The chord structure is a bit simpler than Frank Zappa, but there’s something beautiful, to be able to play G-C-D and have it come out different every time.”
Although the group is swimming in a sea of Colorado bluegrass acts, it has found a core following through touring and collaboration with other bands. It’s that following that could sell the rest of the state — and country — on the Mountain Standard Time lifestyle.
Even when playing a festival out of state, the band flies the Colorado flag to provide an embassy-like safe haven for like-minded people, Colorado natives or not.
“We have a lot of friends that are really supportive of us and like to come out to a lot of shows,” Sutton said. “There’s a strong community in itself. Those that haven’t seen us see groups of people familiar with the songs, and it turns them on to that friendly community.”
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Steamboat Free Summer Concerts announced Friday that it will return live music to the Yampa Valley this summer in the form of two concerts scheduled for August and September.