Hunker Down with an 'edge'

Different brand of bluegrass visits Steamboat for first time Saturday

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If you pass by the door of Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill on Saturday night, you'll hear the familiar sound of a mandolin and an upright bass playing what sounds like bluegrass. But if you stop and listen for a while, you'll hear something more.

You'll hear all the music that passed through bluegrass during the years, as musicians from around the world passed through Appalachia, and then Appalachian musicians passed through the rest of the world. The genre collected musical imagery from places as far as Ireland and Africa.

¤ Hunker Down Bluegrass

¤ 10 p.m. Saturday

¤ Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill, Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue

¤ Free

¤ 879-3773

Mandolin player Andy Straus calls his band's cross-cultural brand of music "stewed grass."

"It's a big pot of all sorts of influences," he said. It's an anthropological angle born of the mind of Straus, a world traveler and front man.

His love for music has taken him from Brazil to Africa to the Southern United States.

"With bluegrass music, in some of the traditions, it's just a bunch of guys sitting in a circle around a microphone and sharing their styles and their own culture," Straus said.

Hunker Down Bluegrass, a Winter Park-based band, will be playing for the first time in Steamboat Springs this weekend. The thing that sets them apart as a bluegrass band, beyond their interest in weaving all forms of music through the bluegrass format, is its "edge."

"'Edge' is a word we use to describe the way we play," Straus said. "We like to maintain that through the show. We try to keep it hot. Even if it's a slow song, it can be hot."

The Hunker Down appeal, he said, is that intensity.

"You can't help but dance," Straus said. "It's upbeat. It's a party. We've been packing our bars full with people who dance hard and drink hard."

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