Hired Hands bring bluegrass to Depot

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Two bartenders from the Old Dylan Inn in Silverthorne are among the songwriters listed in the liner notes for the title track "Hands of Time" on Hired Hands' latest album.

The song was born late at night as former band member Eddie Lee leaned against the bar. The doors were locked, and the Hired Hands had just finished playing a gig.

They started tossing out lines, just playing late-night word games, and the first verse of "Hands of Time" took shape.

Lead singer Don Richmond wrote the second verse, and the song kept building on itself. The final credits list six songwriters.

"That song, to me, is a kind of manifestation of the amazingness of the group (subconscious) when you just start messing around," Richmond said. "It's a very powerful song and has a lot to say even though it had an interesting birth cycle."

Hired Hands is a three-member country/bluegrass band from the Taos, N.M., area. Their music is "glued together by the sound of their instruments." Though they have a folk music feel, the sound is propelled by a banjo, mandolin, fiddle and harmonica (all played by Richmond), Billy Bond Jr.'s guitar and Dobro, a type of acoustic steel guitar with an aluminum resonator, and Jim Bradley's bass.

"Taos has a very active music scene and a strong tradition of this sort of acoustic band," Richmond said. "There's also this Texas singer-songwriter sound, and we definitely have that sort of vibe."

Hired Hands' music is perfect for two-stepping or just sitting back and listening.

Richmond grew up in the Alamosa area and has played music all his life. His formative years were spent listening to California country -- or "long-haired country" as he calls it -- Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and The Eagles.

"That music had a big influence on me," he said.

Even The Beatles' song "Mother Nature's Son," which the group covered on "Hands of Time," has a "long-haired country" sound.

But first and foremost, Richmond is a songwriter, and even the covers he chooses, he selects for the quality of their songwriting.

Hired Hands included Steve Earle's "Me and the Eagle" on the album because of Richmond's reaction to the first verse.

"There's one line that I think is worth the price of a ticket to the show," he said.

The songs starts: "The eagle looked down on the river below / And he wrapped his wings round him and he fell like a stone / And the big salmon fought but the talons held true / And he shuddered as the world turned from silver to blue / I stood there in awe though I'd seen it before / I was born in these mountains and I'll die here for sure."

"That's the highlight of the album for me and the reason I like to play that song," Richmond said. "I think it relates to something people in Colorado all have -- that search for awe. I'm an awe junky. I like to be in awe of the world and the mountains."

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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