James & The Devil to play today, Saturday

Denver-based band twists tradition with its hardened sound

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"Black Sky" by James & The Devil

If you go

What: James & The Devil, Americana rock

When: 10 p.m. today and Saturday

Where: Old Town Pub, 600 Lincoln Ave.

Cost: TBD

Call: 879-2101

— David Ross isn't especially interested in playing someone else's take on someone else's song.

The fiddle player for the Denver-based Americana rock band James & The Devil, Ross adds a hybrid rock-traditional touch to the band's original songs and covers, creating a sound he described in a phone interview Thursday as "a little of a lot" and "Rocky Mountain roll."

James & The Devil brings its "high-paced, high-energy rock 'n' roll fest" to the Old Town Pub today and Saturday. The band has had its current lineup - with Matt Stoner on drums, Adam Carpenter on bass, Jim Campbell on acoustic guitar, Matt Spinks on electric guitar and Ross on fiddle - for about a year and a half and has performed in Steamboat several times.

Playing highly orchestrated but sometimes jamming rock songs with screaming fiddle and guitar riffs, James & The Devil covers a wide demographic, Ross said. The band is as willing to play a Sublime song as it is one by The Allman Brothers Band or a traditional bluegrass tune, and gives its punctuated rock set a mountain sound.

Part of that comes from Ross' unorthodox musical upbringing - one in which most of his friends played electric guitar, and he was just trying to keep up.

"I play an unruly fiddle," he said. "I'm in between a violin and fiddle, because I took both as a kid, and when I got older, I kind of ignored the rules. My friends when I was growing up played rock guitars, so I started trying to make up my own licks."

Those lines have been influenced throughout the years by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Sam Bush, and have sharply broken with the swing and bluegrass fiddle traditions. Ross plays the songs the way he hears them, allowing the members of James & The Devil to cover all the flavors of music they've listened to throughout the years.

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