Old Town Pickers take on their Steamboat Springs stomping grounds Saturday | SteamboatToday.com

Old Town Pickers take on their Steamboat Springs stomping grounds Saturday

The Old Town Pickers, clockwise from top left: Denton Turner, Eric Baker, Jay Roemer and Bryan Moore. The local band plays a free show tonight at their stomping grounds, Old Town Pub.
John F. Russell

— It was the Fourth of July 2010, and three Steamboat Springs musicians were jamming away in the alleyway behind Old Town Pub.

Denton Turner, Jay Roemer and Bryan Moore whiled away the afternoon and night with beers, barbecue and bluegrass until sometime around 1 a.m., when Steamboat resident Eric Baker appeared out of the shadows with a mandolin.

The Old Town Pickers, as they were soon to be known, jammed together until 5:30 a.m. that first night.

“Bluegrass is anywhere it happens,” Turner said with a shrug, sitting in the living room of his Oak Street home Wednesday. It’s his yard that backs up to Old Town Pub and also serves as the Pickers’ practice and party home base.

The group, comprising Roemer on guitar, Moore on banjo, Turner on bass and Baker on mandolin, has since played several gigs at Old Town Pub — their stomping grounds — and will make the short trip across the alley again Saturday night.

The free show starts at about 9:30 p.m.

Since their inception in summer, they also have played one show at The Tugboat Grill & Pub near Steamboat Ski Area.

The environmentally responsible band even took the bus to the Tugboat gig, the musicians hauling their instruments along and playing a few tunes for the other passengers on the bus.

An acoustic bluegrass band doesn’t need amplifiers, microphones or equipment to hold an impromptu concert, which the band members did during a lunch break from their day jobs Wednesday.

The motley assembly jokes around like any group of young men, commenting about the benefits of Old Town Pub stardom and what the best way would be to sneak one of Turner’s chickens into the bar (Moore suggested dressing it up like a seeing-eye chicken).

But when that first note was played, they snapped into a hard-driving, fast-paced bluegrass gear.

Each is an accomplished musician on his own; they all agreed this outfit just works for them.

“We’ve all played with other groups, but together, we’re really motivated to get better and make the music better,” Turner said.

Although Roemer failed music class in seventh grade and Turner was kicked out of his high school orchestra for disrespecting the instruments by playing his bass too hard, all the members of the band have lived and breathed the mountain music culture.

Turner plans to be buried in his bass case; he said bluegrass is just in his blood. “Bluegrass started in the mountains,” said Turner, who grew up in the hills of North Carolina. “And the songs just resonate with mountain people, mountain culture and mountain lifestyle.”

Now that they’ve begun to find their comfort zone, the band hopes to expand beyond Steamboat by booking shows in other mountain towns and along the Front Range.

The big step will be in June, however, when they will be one of 12 bands vying for the title in the Telluride Band Contest.

Until then, it’s about backyard picking, Pabst Blue Ribbon and making waves in the local bar scene.

And there’s no better place to see the pickers than in their own backyard.

“We’re going to pull out all the stops,” Roemer said about Saturday’s show. “We might bring dancers or maybe show up in our ski boots a little drunk.

“I hope our music inspires people to dance and get together and maybe go home together.”

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or e-mail ninglis@SteamboatToday.com

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