Steamboat’s new local reggae band Acutonic aims to heal with sound |

Steamboat’s new local reggae band Acutonic aims to heal with sound

Nicole Inglis

Bradley "Bobcat" Leister, from left, Gerry Verdoner, Andy Pollard and Clay Martin jam during an Acutonic band rehearsal Wednesday night in a downtown Steamboat basement. The band will perform at 9 p.m. Saturday at Sweetwater Grill.

— Snow and mountains are the more common answer to the question.

But ask the seven members of the new local reggae band Acutonic why they moved here or why they're still here, and they'll say it's about the music.

As they rehearsed Wednesday night in a yellow-lit, crowded basement lined with egg crates and tapestries, the seven young men talked between songs about what drew them to Steamboat Springs.

Joe Richard, Nick Baldoumas, Bradley "Bobcat" Leister, Gerry Verdoner, Andy Pollard, Jerry Sorenson and Clay Martin had no qualms about the close quarters — most of them are roommates, and they're all good friends.

Many of them moved here with the intention of playing and performing music.

Verdoner was on the verge of moving when he was "sucked into" the band. It's the reason he still lives here, he said.

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And then, suddenly, it paid off when the group played its first gig in the fall.

It played original songs for nearly 1 1/2 hours, and the crowd danced.

"My initial reaction was, ‘We don't suck,’" laughed Verdoner, who plays trumpet. "People danced, and it was really cool. It's been a huge motivator."

During the following few weeks, the members learned 30 songs and practiced twice a week leading up to their next gig, which they peppered with recognizable covers infused with their distinct reggae-driven electro-rock effect.

They're taking the stage again this weekend at 9 p.m. Saturday at Sweetwater Grill. The show is free and billed as a midwinter beach party with a tropical theme.

Richard, Pollard and Baldoumas hail from Exeter, N.H., where they knew Andrew Edmondson from local band String Board Theory. It was through him they learned about Steamboat.

"Right away, there was a huge music scene," Pollard said. He came to visit and never really left.

"I had $7 when I got here, so I had to get a job," he laughed.

Many of the members work together in local bars and restaurants or met through living in the same condo complex.

Some of them have backgrounds in hard rock and metal, and they named progressive bands like Primus and Mars Volta as major influences in their young careers.

But Sorenson said he was looking to play reggae and found Leister (the only member who played in a reggae band before) and pulled in Verdoner. The pieces fell into place quickly, and their styles of music did, too.

The band comprises two guitars (Leister and Richard), a heavy bass sound (Martin), a drum kit (Sorenson), a versatile keyboard (Baldoumas), the smoky tone of a trumpet (Verdoner), and an elaborate electronic MIDI and percussion setup run by Pollard.

He calls it sound orchestration, and the effects of the electronic sounds give the dub beats an edge.

"There's definitely a place for guitar solos and a heavier side," Sorenson said about the band's sound.

But they're not afraid to shred on guitar while singing about being at peace, and they're not afraid of what the future holds. They hope to tour, record and maintain the enjoyment they're experiencing in the project right at this moment. Their smiles, laughter and seeming lack of any conflict is appropriate given their name.

Acutonic, Sorenson said, is the name of a massage technique that uses the vibrations of sound and music to ease pain and promote wellness. In the reggae band version of that practice, it seems to be working well.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

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