January 29, 2023
Native bluegrass band Elk Vary simply needs to make you dance
Elk Vary.
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In 2015, singer/songwriter Ken Gentry and guitar participant Curtis Fiore occurred to be tenting subsequent to one another on the Telluride Bluegrass Pageant. The impromptu, early-morning jam session that ensued led to a music collaboration that finally turned Elk Vary, a four-piece bluegrass band made up of mandolin, acoustic guitar, harmonica, and bass.

Elk Vary. From left to proper; Ken Gentry, Hugh Phillips, Curtis Fiore, Betty Hoops.
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Curtis Fiore, who’s initially from Illinois however grew up in Carbondale, has been taking part in guitar since he was 7 years previous. He studied jazz and performed in a metallic band as a young person, however, when he transferred to Colorado Rocky Mountain College, he met a instructor who launched him to bluegrass music and would jam with him after class, which actually impressed him and made him fall in love with the style. A number of years later, after he returned from school, he attended an open-mic evening at Bolsky’s bowling alley in El Jebel, the place he first heard Ken carry out lengthy earlier than their campground jam session.

“I had my guitar in my automobile so signed as much as carry out on the spot. I met Ken, noticed him carry out, and was impressed by his voice, however we didn’t play collectively that evening,” Fiore stated.



Ken Gentry is initially from St Louis, Missouri. A self-proclaimed “metropolis boy with a Southern grandmother,” he honed his singing chops in church and recalled all the time having music on and singing alongside to each track, whether or not he knew the phrases or not. At 16, he heard a canopy by David Grisman and Jerry Garcia of the 1951 Roy Hawkins and Roy Darnell-written 1970 BB King hit, The Thrill is Gone, which modified the route of his musical journey.

“It was the primary time I heard a mandolin. I didn’t know what it was, however I couldn’t get the sound of the instrument out of my head. I saved up all my cash, and, inside a pair months, I bought my first mandolin. That track and instrument made an actual impression on me,” Gentry stated.



When he was 17, he and his brother took a Greyhound from St Louis to Denver the place he noticed the Rocky Mountains for the primary time and was blown away after mountain climbing up Flatirons, exterior of Boulder. Two days later, he attended the Telluride Bluegrass Pageant. Telluride opened his thoughts to what acoustic music could possibly be.

“The mountains and the Telluride Bluegrass Pageant had such a profound impression on me. I all the time knew I used to be going to return again,” he stated.

Ten years in the past, he did simply that and moved to the valley. He didn’t know anybody, so he signed up for open-mic nights on the legendary Pink Onion, hoping to fulfill fellow musicians. That’s the place he met Betty Hoops 5 years in the past.

Betty Hoops, a 5 time Guinness E-book World Report holder in pace and distance operating with a hula hoop (The ring has by no means stopped nor dropped), was already well-known in Aspen for her standard hoop train applications, in addition to designing a collapsible hula hoop. However, that evening on the Pink Onion, she was taking part in harmonica. She got here to harmonica considerably randomly, when a pal gifted her a g-harp, which she discovered to play whereas on road-trips.

“I had no formal coaching. I used to go on plenty of street journeys for athletic occasions and taking part in the harmonica whereas I used to be driving was a simple and enjoyable option to cross the time,” she stated.

After she met Gentry on the Pink Onion, he informed her she ought to come jam with him and Fiore, and he or she turned a “crazed fan who fell in love with their music.” She began going to all their jam classes and started accumulating harmonicas, so she may study extra simply to play with them. After they invited her to hitch them on a number of tracks for his or her freshman album, Lengthy Winding Street, the deal was sealed.

Shortly after, they added stand-up bass participant Hugh Phillips to spherical out the band.

Elk Vary. From left to proper; Ken Gentry, Hugh Phillips, Curtis Fiore, Betty Hoops.
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Elk Vary’s motto is “If it ain’t quick, it ain’t Elk Vary,” they usually delight themselves on performing each authentic music and covers at a extra frenetic tempo meant to get the viewers on their toes and dancing. They attribute their love of bluegrass to a number of components from the pop-culture affect of 2000 Cohen brothers movie, O Brother, The place Artwork Tho, to the connection to American tradition and historical past.

“Bluegrass music on the whole its very soulful and playful. It instills a way of household and neighborhood. Going to bluegrass reveals over the previous 20 years, it hasn’t modified. It’s nonetheless about household, neighborhood pleasure,” Hoops stated.

Fiore agreed.

“I really like bluegrass for the readability of emotion. You’ll be able to hear each observe, there’s a lot precision, you’ll be able to really feel the story. And, it makes you dance, man,” he stated.

Elk Vary.
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Elk Vary is slowly gaining momentum. They’ve shared competition payments with mandolin hero Sam Bush’s band, appeared on the The Ute Theater, Aspen Mountain Summer time Bluegrass Sequence, and performed Carbondale’s Mountain Honest for the primary time this yr, in addition to common appearances at numerous venues throughout Western Colorado, together with month-to-month appearances on the Tipsy Trout in Basalt. They even made a cameo in season 16 of The Actual Housewives of Orange County throughout a forged journey to Aspen. However, what they’re most enthusiastic about is their upcoming debut look at legendary Aspen music venue Stomach Up because the opener for Mountain Rose on Dec. 6.

“Once you go to one among our reveals, you’ll be able to count on us to be conveying to you our feelings. We put our entire selves into these songs — you’ll by no means see the identical present twice. You’ll all the time get us placing 110% into the music,” stated Gentry. “One of many joys of music is self-fulfillment and the power to share that with individuals. We wish everybody to be part of It with us.”

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