Bluegrass aint just hilbillies playin’ banjos

6 Dec


A band with talents galore

Recently, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Char and Gary Gross, two musicians in the Wind-Swept Bluegrass band. We talked about everything from why they even started a band to the huge instrument collection they had.

They told me about each member in their band and what they play. For instance, the newest member, Dan O’Leary plays the fiddle, mandolin, bass and guitar. Lawrence plays the guitar and mandolin. Char plays the auto harp, accordion, and upright bass. Last but not least, Gary plays the dobro among other odd bluegrass-like instruments. And of course they all sing.

How did this all begin?

Char and Gary met while they were taking western dance lessons. Long story short, they were on a date together at a teachers party and won tickets to a big bluegrass festival in Telluride. From there they started going to more and more bluegrass festivals. Eventually, they started “jamming” at the blue grass festivals. Char started on her accordion, but because it wasn’t a stringed instrument it wasn’t a good instrument for bluegrass music. She then began to play the auto harp.

Gary started playing the dobro after he saw one being played at a bluegrass festival.  Needless to say, they were in Ft. Collins at a music store and Gary fell for a dobro in a music store there. After mauling the decision to purchase it over lunch, Char and Gary went back and bought Gary’s first dobro. After that, they decided to take a jamming class to learn a little more about bluegrass music. The teacher of that class decided that Char should try out an upright bass because that was louder than the auto harp she was playing.

So, Char rented an upright bass for a weekend and eventually ended up purchasing it.

The first band member

Char and Gary found an ad in the Trader’s magazine that said a guy named Lawrence wanted to find people who Jam to play some bluegrass music with. Long story short, they started jamming with Lawrence and a few other people in their living rooms.

The jams got to be so popular that eventually they had to start renting a room at the library once a month to jam in. From there the jam’s got to be so big that they started jamming twice a month and then started a beginners jamming group in their home.

The first performance

Dale, an experienced jammer, found an opportunity in Pine Bluffs, where he lives, for some of the more experienced jammers to play an ole-act at a play in Pine Bluffs. After, that performance, they were asked to come back and offered another opportunity to play at a Coronation in Pine Bluffs. Eventually they decided to form a band called Wind-Swept Bluegrass.

After establishing a name for themselves, they started playing little gigs here and there at assisted living communities. They began practicing once a week and Gary began to take a sound technology class at LCCC in order to hook up speakers so that the elderly people at the living communities they play at could hear better.

This class lead to their concert at LCCC for the sound technology class final, and then leads to the band’s current position. They are still jamming at the library every first and third Saturday of every month and they are still open to anyone who wants to come and learn or just play.

So why bluegrass?

Char and Gary put it very short for me in their interview with me. However, in order to find out why they do what they do, you need to see for yourself by watching the video below.


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