On Saturday, November 21, Flying Cat Music brings esteemed bluegrass band Jeff Scroggins and Colorado to Phoenicia to perform at the Empire State Railway Museum located at 70 Lower High Street. The doors open at 7:00 p.m. with the show beginning promptly at 7:30. Admission is $18 or $15 with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-688-9453.
The World of Bluegrass Festival, a seminal event for bluegrass music produced by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), called Jeff Scroggins and Colorado “a high energy, high mountain bluegrass explosion.” Bluegrass Unlimited calls Jeff Scroggins and Colorado “a wonderful and talented group” noting “Jeff Scroggins may not be a household name, but he should be.” No Depression Magazine featured Jeff Scroggins and Colorado in a story on “new discoveries” at the 2014 IBMA Festival in Raleigh writing: “Ace banjo player Jeff Scroggins is well known in bluegrass music circles, having dominated many banjo contests over the years and played with major artists like Peter Rowan, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan, The Dixie Chicks and more, but the discoveries in the band were his young son, Tristan Scroggins, an amazing mandolin player, and W. Virginia singer Greg Blake, whose soaring tenor cut through the dirty brick walls of The Pour House in Raleigh.”
Members of this band have won impressive accolades. Jeff Scroggins is a two-time National Bluegrass Banjo Champion. Jeff’s son Tristan Scroggins at age twenty already holds state mandolin championships in New Mexico and Arizona. The group’s lead vocalist and guitarist Greg Blake was twice nominated by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) for “Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year” and has won five SPBGMA awards for “Guitarist of the Year.” On top of that, Greg’s just-released first solo album Songs of Heart and Home ranked number two in September on the National Folk DJ list. Greg Blake was also their most played artist in September, with two songs placing in the Top Ten in that survey. Rounding out this stellar group are the talented Ellie Hakanson on fiddle (she’s also a superb vocalist) and Jimmy Largent on upright bass.
A review of Songs of Heart and Home by the Bluegrass Music News Network in their publication Cybergrass sheds light on Greg’s background: “Greg Blake grew up in the mountains of southwest West Virginia and, when he sings, you can hear a voice that connects to the great old generations of mountain singers, invested with a rich twang and the kind of eerily powerful cry that first inspired the ‘high, lonesome sound.’”
Band leader Jeff Scroggins grew up in Oklahoma, where he spent years listening to both his grandfather, and his great uncle, Oklahoma fiddle legend Ace Sewelland, play old time country music. He took up banjo as a teenager under the guidance of renowned banjo player Alan Munde. From then on there was no looking back. In the years that followed, Jeff recorded and toured with many of the greats in the bluegrass field, winning multiple banjo awards while his music took him as far afield as Russia and Japan. In the late 1980’s Scroggins was living in Texas where, in 1989, he became a founding member of the highly regarded Andy Owens Project and remained with it for eight years. In 1996 Jeff Scroggins was named a Texas Tornado by Buddy Magazine, which has continually covered the music scene in Texas since 1973. It’s an honor many equate with induction into an unofficial Texas Music Hall of Fame.
Texas was alive with traditional music in the 1980’s. Just prior to forming The Andy Owens Project, Owens was in a regional bluegrass band (Danger in the Air) with Robin Macy, who left after co-founding The Dixie Chicks. Macy exited The Dixie Chicks in late 1992, however, feeling they had strayed too far from their bluegrass roots. By 1999 Robin Macy and Jeff Scroggins were in Kansas launching the bluegrass group Big Twang. It recorded one CD and won the 1999 RockyGrass Festival Band Championship – a major honor from a festival that was founded by Bill Monroe and members of the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society and one which remains internationally prestigious today.
Around that time though Scroggins began shifting the focus of his life toward his young family, which is where it stayed for over a decade. In 2009 Jeff and Tristan Scroggins relocated to the Front Range of Colorado, and in 2011, with Tristan then 16, they formed Jeff Scroggins and Colorado. This time Jeff’s love of bluegrass music and family has merged in a way sure to please all bluegrass fans. As No Depression Magazine so well puts it, “There’s a real family feel to this band, and it’s great to see that the elder Scroggins is mentoring his son to become another bluegrass master picker!”