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'Grass Town, USA: Mountain Standard Time's accelerated trek from Nederland, Colo. to your eardrum 

click to enlarge Who's that guy in the van waving at: Who's that guy in the van waving at?
  • Who's that guy in the van waving at: Who's that guy in the van waving at?
Who's that guy in the van waving at?
There is a place in Colorado called Nederland. If you listen to bluegrass or any of the myriad of styles that orbit around that genre, you probably know about this little mountain town. I've never been there, but this is how I've often pictured it: Everyone is playing a banjo, a mandolin or a double bass and some people are playing two of those things at the same time. I picture people picking together on street corners, stopping only to wave at passersby and saying something folksy like, "Have a good day, ya hear!"

In reality, the actual town of Nederland most likely isn't anything like that, but it is the home of members of Yonder Mountain String Band, String Cheese Incident, as well as Vince Hermann of Leftover Salmon and Great American Taxi fame. Now, you can add another name to the ever-growing roster of Nederland bands, Mountain Standard Time, a sextet that's touring the West Coast (which includes stops at Saturday's Earth Day celebration then another show at the Silver Moon that night) and hitting up the summer festival circuit before ever releasing a record.


Half of this string-based band has gathered to chat over speakerphone in a café owned by Nathanial Hass, the band's percussionist, about their first West Coast tour, their upcoming recording session, the accelerated nature of their band's rise to notice in the arena of acoustic music and the fact that they're not really a bluegrass band.

"We're just about a year old now, so we're kind of just flying blind," says Stanton Sutton, who plays guitar, mandolin and helps with Mountain Standard Time's vocal duties.

Like so many other acoustic acts that feature banjo and mandolin in their lineup, MST is pegged as a bluegrass band, but again, like many others in their circle, they don't readily consider their music bluegrass.

"I'm not sure this is a bluegrass band. We tend to get thrown into that because we've written and performed songs that come from that vein. Everybody in this band has different musical backgrounds from where they've played and what they've listened to," says mandolin player Phillip Dyer.

If that statement sounds familiar to some, that's because you've probably read a similar quote from Bend's own Moon Mountain Ramblers. While there are some certain differences between the two acts, there are similarities in the band's high-powered, up-tempo acoustic mountain music. Both bands tend also to shy away from the "bluegrass" label, even though both bands can play bluegrass and play it well. This style is reflective of other Nederland bands, most notably Yonder Mountain String Band, which made a name for itself by stretching (and often breaking) the limits of the bluegrass genre.

MST is clearly influenced by the other musicians that they're surrounded by in Nederland (a town that, in addition to hosting Nedfest, the well-known music fest, also is home to something called Frozen Dead Guy Days), some of which they've had the opportunity to play with in one of Nederland's many open jam opportunities. This is what led Vince Hermann to sign on to produce the band's album, which they will lay down in the studio next month in the hopes of rolling out a record to sell on their summer tour.

"There's a lot of inspiration of living here," says Dyer. "At one point or another we've all had opportunities to sit and pick with people that every one of us has spent money to see play."

Mountain Standard Time
Free show at Earth Day Celebration: 2pm Troy Field AND 9pm. Silver Moon Brewing Co. 24, NW Greenwood Ave. Saturday, April 18.

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