Photo by John F. Russell
The bluegrass band Ragweed, which includes local musicians, clockwise from lower left, John Aviza, Bonnie Murray, Walt Seabert, Betsy Seabert and Von Wilson, is scheduled to play at 8:30 p.m. today at Ghost Ranch Saloon.
If you go
What: Ragweed, local bluegrass
When: 8:30 p.m. today
Where: Ghost Ranch Saloon, 56 Seventh St.
Steamboat Springs In the local bluegrass band Ragweed, everyone involved brings something different to the table.
Guitarist John Aviza brings decades of playing in rock bands. Banjo player and Craig native Von Wilson offers years of tearing out up-tempo, flat-picked solos. Walt Seabert offers steady standup bass and experience underlying the Steamboat Springs Orchestra as a tuba player. Betsy Seabert contributes naturally sweet lead vocals and a lifelong love of bluegrass music.
And Bonnie Murray shares a distinctly classical influence with her fiddle - and, Wilson and Aviza joked, her ability to read music.
"She's actually our ace in the hole," Aviza said about Murray. "A lot of people in bluegrass bands, they call it a fiddle. But when they see Bonnie, they still call it a violin."
Ragweed plays at 8:30 p.m. today at Ghost Ranch Saloon. On Monday evening, the band gathered at Aviza's house to run through bluegrass songs that have touches of rock, jazz and other musical styles.
"We've always played everything with a bluegrass flair," Wilson said.
Ragweed has had its five-person lineup for about a year and a half, but several of the band's members have been regular players in the Steamboat Springs music scene since they moved here 10, 20 or 30 years ago.
Wilson and Aviza have been playing on and off in various groups for about 20 years, and along with Betsy and Walt Seabert, have shared a stage with most steadily gigging musicians in town. That means a healthy blend of influences. Still, the band is anchored in the music its instrumentation demands.
"Bluegrass is the reason I started playing music," Betsy Seabert said. "I bought a mandolin and had never played anything before. : It's mountain music, and being in the high country, it fits for me."
The group has been working toward setting up a gig at Ghost Ranch for a while, but the members of Ragweed jokingly refer to themselves as "the benefit band."
Recent gigs include a spot at the first Hayden Farmers Market on June 19 and a set at a fundraiser dinner for the Steamboat Springs Orchestra on June 20. The band has performed for the Jimmie Heuga bluegrass jam benefit every year it's been together and played one of Strings Music Festival's Music on the Green free concerts in summer 2008.
Today's set will stay up-tempo for the bar crowd, Wilson said. The band will start early to entice a weeknight crowd but will stay on stage late, he said.