Spring Creek from Lyons, Colorado, are quickly gaining a reputation as the hottest young band in the Rocky Mountains. The quartet play a mix of bluegrass standards and compelling originals, and all four musicians are also accomplished vocalists. Spring Creek is built on the fundamentals of bluegrass, yet they create their own classic contemporary style.
The young band, whose members met in music school in Texas, have studied and performed together for several years, creating a tight, polished sound. Counting such bands as Country Gazette and Hot Rize among their influences, Spring Creek’s members have a deep respect for tradition, as well as an innate sense of musical innovation.
“We choose songs that suit our style,” says guitarist Taylor Sims. “I enjoy the pilgrimage–learning songs the way they’ve been played for years and years, staying close to tradition. But a lot of different kinds of songs can fit into the traditional bluegrass style if they are done really well. We try hard to do each song justice, with real bluegrass-style harmonies and arrangements.”
Judges at two recent band competitions agree that Spring Creek have what it takes to deliver the high, lonesome sounds in the Appalachian tradition. The band won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival band contest in June 2007, and won their second Planet Bluegrass title later that summer at the 35th annual Rocky Mountain Bluegrass Festival (RockyGrass) held in Lyons.
“We won Telluride pretty exclusively based on the strength of our original material,” explains Alex Johnstone, who plays both mandolin and fiddle in Spring Creek. “People are learning our tunes now and that’s so exciting.”
Though they clearly appeal to traditional bluegrass fans, the Spring Creek musicians mix in a little something for everyone at their live shows. Expect to hear an Elton John or Gillian Welch cover squeezed in between a blazing fast Carter Stanley instrumental and a rip roarin’ Bill Monroe tune. Band mates agree that they want to have a hand in initiating younger audiences into the bluegrass fold.
“I’m into the idea of playing for general audiences where people might be exposed to traditional bluegrass for the first time,” says Chris Elliott, who in addition to his band’s win at RockyGrass, also celebrated earning top honors in the festival’s banjo instrument contest.
“When I first saw younger people playing bluegrass, I thought, ‘Wow, this could be really cool,’” says Elliott. “If more young people are exposed to bluegrass at the right time, they’ll like it too.”
“We really want all generations to appreciate bluegrass,” agrees bassist Jessica Smith. “Some kids think it’s just sleepy music for older people. We show them that we have real energy and passion; we show them that it’s something special.”
Following up on 2006’s Rural & Cosmic Bluegrass, Spring Creek released Lonesome Way to Go in March 2008 and their third disc,Way Up on a Mountain on Rebel Records in May 2009. This 12-track album of kickin’ Colorado bluegrass has charmed fans, critics, DJs and festival producers alike with its expert vocals, instrumental work and impressive writing.
“Spring Creek has redefined what can be accomplished on acoustic instruments,” says Chris Kelly of the Crested Butte Weekly. “They are an act not to be missed, as their constant live performances have allowed them to become a tight-knit musical ensemble.”
“On stage, the band has real chemistry,” says Kelly. “Through mutual stimulation and stage-fed adrenaline and energy, the band can thrust itself into an acoustic frenzy!”