10 years of waiting

Bluegrass world ready for The Hot Strings

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Why would a band play together for more than 10 years before ever hitting the road? Even after winning the Rockygrass Band Competition and the Telluride Bluegrass band contest, The Hot Strings weren't ready to tour.

They had to wait for the youngest band member, fiddle player Carson Park, to graduate from high school.

Hot Strings

10 p.m. Saturday

Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill, Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue

Free

879-3773

The bluegrass world has been waiting for The Hot Strings, formerly the Pagosa Hot Strings after their hometown, who have a new, professionally recorded album and dedication to their musical careers.

Three of the four band members are related -- guitar player Jared Payne and mandolin player Josiah Payne are brothers. Park is their cousin. They have been playing together since Park was 7 and the Paynes were 11 and 9. The original lineup included Carson's dad, Dan Park, but when the group decided they were ready for the big time, Park stepped into a role as manager, and 23-year-old bass player Lech Usinowicz took his place on stage.

In those first few years as a band, The Hot Strings played straight ahead bluegrass, but during a decade of playing together, they have experimented with their sound.

"People still call us a bluegrass band, but we've added some elements of Celtic, rock, jazz and Latin to our music," Josiah Payne said. "It's fusion played on acoustic bluegrass instruments." It's a sound that reflects their influence by bands such as Newgrass Revival and Nickel Creek.

The Hot Strings' first summer as a touring band has included stops at the Northern Rockies Folk Festival in Idaho and the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival, where Jared Payne took first place in the guitar competition.

This tour also will include their first stop in Steamboat Springs for a show Saturday night at Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill.

The group recently released a new album, "Uncharted," recorded in Nashville by Pat Flynn of Newgrass Revival.

"He is one of our heroes," Josiah Payne said. "We started communicating with him over the Internet, and when we told him we wanted to record an album, he was happy to produce it." With a limited budget, the four Hot Strings members flew out to Nashville and recorded the album in a week.

"It took a lot of practice beforehand to be able to do it," Payne said.

"Uncharted" reflects the band's direction, he said. Most of the songs are original, with one traditional bluegrass tune and a Peter Frampton cover. Each member of the band, including manager Dan Park, wrote a song for the album.

Onstage, the band tries to break the bluegrass mold.

"We like to be a little louder," Payne said. "We have acoustic amplifiers and some fun distortion toys to play around with.

"We joke around a lot. We're just four guys who are really excited about what we're doing, and we're having a blast onstage. Our main goal is to share that energy."

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