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Mountain Standard Time bluegrass group returns to Steamboat tonight

Mountain Standard Time
011311_MST

— 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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