Telluride crown puts Bearfoot Bluegrass on map
By the time she was 16, bass player Kate Hamre had won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition as a member of Bearfoot Bluegrass. By 17, she and the rest of the band had a regular gig teaching bluegrass to children at the Rockygrass Festival.
Now 19, Hamre and her fellow band members have a CD produced by Todd Phillips, bass player and founding member of the David Grisman Quintet.
The band connected with Phillips through a student at a Bluegrass Camp for Kids in Alaska. Last year, they traveled to California three times to have Phillips produce their latest album, “Back Home.”
In the liner notes, Phillips wrote, “I am very proud of Bearfoot Bluegrass. Right before my eyes they have evolved from enthusiastic, talented kids into seasoned musicians — now with a high caliber recording to their credit.”
In addition to Hamre, Bearfoot Bluegrass features Jason Norris on mandolin; Mike Mickelson on guitar; Angela Oudean on fiddle, guitar and vocals; and Annalisa Woodlee on fiddle, viola and vocals. The oldest member of Bearfoot Bluegrass is 21. Their youth has the rest of the bluegrass community watching to see what this band can accomplish, and they’re disappointing no one.
After winning the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition, doors have opened for the band. Members have since graduated from high school and are now in college. They study during the winter, tour and teach during the summer.
“Winning that competition just pushed everything else into place,” Hamre said.
The next summer, the band toured its home state of Alaska, as well as Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado. And they led the first Bluegrass Camp for Kids, a three-day music camp for children ages 5 through 16.
Bearfoot Bluegrass played in Steamboat Springs the same year they played at the Telluride festival. They are playing here again Saturday as a preview for the Bluegrass Camp they will be holding in August as part of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council Beaux Arts Festival.
The camp is designed for bluegrass beginners, but also offers intermediate classes. Children can take lessons in beginning bass or intermediate banjo and there are classes just for learning how to jam with other musicians.
“We want to spread a positive feeling about bluegrass music,” Hamre said. “We want them to leave with a desire to learn more.”
The camp costs $150 for three full days of music instruction, scheduled for Aug. 2, 3 and 4. A sign-up sheet for this summer’s Bluegrass Camp for Kids will be on hand at Saturday’s concert.
–To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210
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