Expedition Quartet — outer boundaries of folk and bluegrass

Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass is just four weeks away. The event kicks off with a free concert on Friday, June 5, at 5 p.m. at the Gazebo in Town Park, then moves up to Reservoir Hill where music will happen on three stages over the weekend. Hundreds of people will arrive in Pagosa Springs for this world-class festival taking place in your backyard.

The lineup includes The Belleville Outfit, The Infamous Stringdusters, the John Jorgenson Quintet, Bearfoot, Missy Raines and the New Hip, Tony Furtado, Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, Sweet Sunny South, The Badly Bent, Sarah Jarosz, The Boston Boys, Jeff and Vida and this week’s featured band, the Expedition Quartet. While the festival is called Folk ‘N Bluegrass, in reality there are many more styles of music represented by this year’s performers, including jazz, swing, gypsy guitar, blues and more. 

While rooted in the string band tradition, the Expedition Quartet is not bound by any one genre. Their set is as likely to include bluegrass stomps, traditional fiddle tunes and swing standards, as an Argentine tango, Brazilian choro, or an original modern string band composition.

The Expedition Quartet didn’t form like an ordinary group, and it follows that their music is far from ordinary. In 2006, after hearing banjoist Jake Schepps’ solo CD, the Durango Meltdown Festival insisted Jake put together a band to perform. Seizing the opportunity to showcase Jake’s unique vision of adventurous string band music, he recruited some of the most accomplished acoustic musicians from Colorado’s thriving acoustic music scene. Despite being the most adventurous group at a fairly traditional festival, The Expedition Quartet’s sets were an unqualified success, and it was clear that the expedition had just begun.  

The band released the all-instrumental album “Ten Thousand Leaves,” which was produced by Nashville’s Matt Flinner. It was called “One of the top 10 releases of 2007” by JazzReview.com, and “Highly Recommended” by Dirty Linen. Music from the CD received an International Acoustic Music Award, in addition to being selected for Global Rhythm Magazine’s November 2007 CD Sampler.

Jake Schepps is a banjo renaissance man and the creative force behind the Quartet. Renowned for his intelligent touch on the banjo and imaginative variation on string band music, Jake was featured on the cover of Banjo Newsletter in July 2008. In addition to music, Jake teaches emergency wilderness medicine around the world.

Fiddler Ryan Drickey is armed with a master’s in violin performance and holds the 2007 RockyGrass Fiddle Championship. His indomitable abilities and experience stretch from America to Scandinavia, and traditional fiddle tunes, to jazz, tango, and classical music.

Greg Schochet is an integral part of Colorado’s music community, in demand as a performer, producer, and educator. Equally adept on guitar and mandolin, Greg is fluent in bluegrass, swing, country, folk, and blues. Greg was a founding member of Runaway Truck Ramp and currently performs with Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams, Colorado’s acclaimed honky-tonk and western swing band.

Ian Hutchison is one of the busiest bass players in Colorado. Ian graduated magna cum laude from the University of Denver with a jazz performance degree, won several distinctions, including jazz student of the year and outstanding senior jazz recital, and was awarded a two-week trip to study music in Nagoya, Japan.

Together, this quartet takes their instruments to the outer boundaries of traditional folk and bluegrass music and beyond — way beyond. The Expedition Quartet will play on the main stage of the Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass Festival on Sunday, June 7 at 11 a.m.

Tickets to the event can be purchased locally at Moonlight Books downtown or at ReSport in the Pagosa Lakes City Market shopping center. Tickets and information are also available online at www.folkwest.com or by calling (877) 472-4672. There may still be a few volunteer positions available for people 18 and over in exchange for a two-day pass. If interested, call Dan at 731-5582.


Photo courtesy FolkWest
While rooted in the string band tradition, the Expedition Quartet is not bound by any one genre. Their set is as likely to include bluegrass stomps, traditional fiddle tunes and swing standards, as an Argentine tango, Brazilian choro, or an original modern string band composition. The Expedition Quartet will play on the main stage of the Pagosa Folk ‘N Bluegrass Festival on Sunday, June 7 at 11 a.m.