Punk rock sings blues in American Relay

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From the first time the band played in Steamboat, American Relay blew local music lovers away. It is hard to believe such a big sound can come from a two-member band.

Playing punk-blues, American Relay is fronted by singer/guitar player Nick Sullivan and backed by drummer Alex Hebert.

¤ American Relay and ASG When: 10 p.m. Thursday Where: Levelz in Ski Time Square Cost: $3 before 10 p.m. Sullivan recommends ¤ Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, "Naturally" ¤ "Sunday Nights: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough" by Fat Possum Records ¤ Scott H. Biram (Blues legend/one man band)

Sullivan is a 1999 Steamboat Springs High School graduate. Growing up in Steamboat, he played the guitar, but never in a band. He studied audio engineering at University of Colorado in Denver.

Hebert's parents are diplomats who keep their stateside home in Steamboat. He has lived here on and off for more than 10 years. But the two musicians didn't know each other in Steamboat.

They met at college in Denver and started playing together a year ago.

Music lovers in Steamboat with a long memory might remember Hebert as the drummer for one-time local punk bands Drunk by Noon and When Eskimos Attack.

Although American Relay has a punk edge, the duo's major influences come from Denver's thriving Americana scene.

Their song, "Sundown Express," named after the Steamboat Ski Area chairlift, is about the kind of music they admire.

"'Sundown Express' is about all the original Delta blues artists who are starting to die," Sullivan said. "It's a metaphor for keeping that kind of music alive. It's the first song I wrote, and it's about what it's like being an artist like myself trying to keep those roots alive."

American Relay will play Thursday with ASG from North Carolina. Metal punk band ASG last played in Steamboat at Levelz when it opened for Pepper.

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