Railsplitters are latest/greatest in Colorado bluegrass tradition

by DGO Web Administrator

There’s a good reason why fans of acoustic-based bluegrass in its not-so-traditional sense look to the state of Colorado. Because when it comes to this “style” of music, Colorado continues to generate some of the best. It’s been like that since Hot Rize gave way to the jam-grass bands, with the state still standing tall in the genre, with pockets of musicians in the various mountain towns from the Front Range to the Western Slope continuing to crank out bands that catch the eyes and ears of bluegrass fans. There are dozens, from the party bands like Leftover Salmon or Yonder Mountain String Band, to bands like Sweet Sunny South, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, or even one-time local bands like the now-defunct Rock n Rye and Waiting on Trial.

Boulder’s Railsplitters are making a name for themselves, becoming festival regulars and fan favorites with upbeat shows and stellar musicianship, all in a package of precise picking and sharp delivery, with a strong female front. It’s refreshing, clean and catchy in a scene that favors a crisp sound. The Railsplitters will perform Friday (March 10) at The Balcony Backstage.

They carry the lineage of Colorado-based bluegrass bands that have come before them, and the Railsplitters live up to the hype and expectation. It’s like the state has a draw that can make you an immediate legacy because of your location.

“At the time I was living in Alaska, and a friend of mine told me that if I can, come to Boulder and Lyons because that’s where the scene is,” said banjo player Dusty Rider. “‘Get in touch with K.C. Groves,’ and I did, and K.C. took me under her wing and kind of helped me get into the scene. That was my story; everybody else has a similar story as well.”

The band is still rolling on the momentum of winning The Rockygrass Band Competition in 2013. Despite that being now three competitions ago, it’s a great kick in the ass that creates a long wave to ride.

“For us it was a combination of being a humongous morale booster as well as, for one, just playing there. It’s packed full of all kinds of people who really are just there to support the bands and give everyone a huge jolt. It doesn’t matter if you win, it doesn’t matter if you don’t win, everybody comes out feeling really good,” said Rider. “The fact that we won throws an additional bonus on that. It helps you stand out just a little bit more. Of course, then you have to keep proving yourself, but you take that and run with it and that’s what we really try to do.”

The Railsplitters just wrapped up a Kickstarter campaign to fund their forthcoming record, which will offer bonus material for the diehard fans of Colorado bluegrass that supported the project; it’s now common for bands to ask fans for money to fund projects, but its testament to the fans of bands in this genre; they know the value of the product, and are willing to shell out cash for it.

“It is nerve-wracking, but it seems to be the new norm for independent artists,” said Rider. “Most bands that we know and that we love, they do the same thing. And it gives us a lot more flexibility as to what we do with our music, and it also gives our fans a little something extra for supporting us, instead of just getting a digital download or CD.”

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. [email protected].


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