Sam Bush to create mandolin magic at Belly Up, Ute Theater
Sam Bush’s name is so familiar in these parts, many people mistake him for a Coloradan.
“We’ve just been coming to Colorado so long it feels like a home to us,” says the renowned multi-instrumentalist. “It’s funny, many people think we’re either from North Carolina or Colorado, since we tend to play there so much.”
Bush, sometimes called the father of new grass, is a Kentucky native who now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. But he’ll be back in the mountains for two Roaring Fork Valley shows in the coming days: Wednesday at Belly Up in Aspen and Thursday at the Ute Theater in Rifle.
Maybe it’s the mountain spirit that repeatedly draws him to the two states, Bush said. Bush has been a regular at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, whether solo or as part of New Grass Revival, and credits that event for his success in Colorado. He’ll be back in Telluride in June.
“Both of those states give you a sense of community,” he said. “Learning to play music is just part of the community of the area.”
Community is something Bush knows well, and it’s evident even in his solo shows. He collaborates with friends including bluegrass greats Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer, and Bush’s latest album is full of songs co-written with other pals.
Songs from that album, 2016’s “Storyman,” are sure to show up in the playlist during Bush’s Roaring Fork Valley shows. They’re filled with stories, such as “Transcendental Meditation Blues,” a song co-written with Jeff Black that details a Greyhound bus breaking down when Bush was on the way to visit his then-girlfriend, now-wife of 32 years, Lynn. “Carcinoma Blues,” a Guy Clark collaboration, delves into the cancer experience both of a patient and his loved one.
“I’m a fan of other people’s music, too, and a cheerleader for my friends,” he said. “It certainly brightens my day to hear certain songs.”
Those friendships extend beyond the people he plays and writes with, Bush is quick to note, although music is often the glue that unites them. He’s met people throughout the country while on tour, and points to Aspen’s Dan Sadowsky, or “Pastor Mustard,” as a perfect example.
“Part of that relationship is music, and part of it is we found we had many things in common,” Bush said. “The music gives us a sense of community together.”
As for the sense of togetherness at shows, expect it to vary depending on venue. Bush predicted a more rambunctious show at the Belly Up, and perhaps a more sedate set at the Ute.
“Maybe at the Ute you can do a few things that aren’t quite as rough and rowdy,” Bush said. “We like doing different things for different audiences.”
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