Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, an electrifying Rocky Mountain bluegrass band, takes the stage at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Advanced tickets for $18 are available by calling 731-7469 or online at www.pagosacenter.org. Tickets at the door are $22.
Music aficionados of all stripes will appreciate the first-rate artistry of Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, a band of virtuosic bluegrass super-pickers. With an emotional intensity that immediately grabs the listener, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado take what used to be thought of as old-time mountain hillbilly music, mix in other musical genres with it — and perform it on the fine arts concert stage.
“We chose our name to show our mutual affection for the state that we have all come to call home, and to represent the more progressive approach to our ‘bluegrassing’ that places like Lyons, Nederland and Pagosa Springs have helped to develop over the last 30 years,” says fiddler Annie Savage. “When we travel through the Midwest and places that tend to stick to more nostalgia-based bluegrass, they know we are probably going to defy the genre a bit. We all grew up inside the tradition of bluegrass. We just love it so much that we feel the need to keep it fresh and alive for many more generations to enjoy and develop.”
Banjoist Jeff Scroggins has been a towering figure in the music business for decades. Scroggins has performed and recorded with many of the top names in bluegrass and has won numerous awards including the prestigious National Bluegrass Banjo Championship and dozens of state, regional and local banjo contests. An internationally known performer and banjo teacher his fiery style has earned him many fans worldwide. He has toured throughout the U.S., Canada, Japan and Russia. Scroggins grew up in rural Oklahoma listening to his grandfather, J.M. Cary, perform old-time country music and hearing the fiddling of his great uncle, Oklahoma fiddle legend Ace Sewell. At the age of 12, Scroggins’ grandfather gave him his first guitar and taught him how to play.
Mandolinist Tristan Scroggins is the youngest member of the band.
“Tristan is an exciting one to watch in our project,” says fiddler Savage. “Not only does he represent the authentic process of passing of the music down from one generation to the next through his work with Jeff, he is a prodigy player along the lines of Mark O’Connor and other bluegrass greats who started young and grew up inside the tradition. At 17, Tristan already fully understands what defines traditional bluegrass and is stretching the boundaries of bluegrass without taking them to the breaking point and listeners will love his original compositions that tend to give a nod to Bill Monroe while also incorporating elements of jazz, funk and Afro-grass into the band.”
Lead singer Greg Blake delivers his vocals with conviction, style and clarity.
Blake was born in southern West Virginia and from there acquired his love for bluegrass and mountain music. Influenced by Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Doc Watson and others, he began playing and singing at age 7. Blake was won numerous awarded for both his singing and guitar playing.
Annie Savage began her career in the music business when she was 8 years old.
“I started playing the fiddle when I was two,” she said. “I learned to play music kind of like I learned how to talk, through listening to a lot of other people around me do it. The fiddle has always been my language.”
Her vivaciousness and versatility has developed through 30 years of performing classical violin, concert harp and bluegrass fiddle. While pursuing studies at Oberlin Conservatory, Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory, Savage found her passion for teaching other people to enjoy the art of music. She founded and directed a guitar and fiddle club to introduce the art of folk music and improvisation to her students. She developed the largest harp program in any public school in the Midwest. Besides enjoying a rigorous performance schedule, Savage teaches orchestra at a school in Lafayette, Colo.
In bluegrass, as in jazz, one or more instruments each take turns playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment — especially in tunes called breakdowns. A distinguishing characteristic of bluegrass is vocal harmony featuring two, three or four parts. Bluegrass, as a distinct musical form, developed from elements of old-time music and traditional music of the Appalachian region of the United States. Jeff Scroggins and Colorado is a remarkable exponent of progressive bluegrass, merging the traditional with the adventurous. Come have an unforgettably magical musical adventure.
The Jeff Scroggins and Colorado concert is part of the Summer Concert Series produced by the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts in collaboration with Elation Center for the Arts. Sponsors are Mountain Landing Guest Quarters, Photographer Jeff Laydon and The Pagosa Springs SUN. For further information, call 731-7469.
The last concert of the series, on Aug. 28, features Cherise Lukow, a gifted opera singer and her pianist from Paris..