Mountain Bluegrass Band picks its way into local music
|Broke Mountain Bluegrass
Band members, from left, Robin Davis, Travis Book,
Andy Thorn and Rick Hauchman perform
a number at the Summit last Saturday night./Photo
by Todd Newcomer.
Although the name the Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band
may invoke visions of a shrouded mountaintop somewhere
in the hills of Kentucky, its meaning is actually a
lot more literal and a lot less romantic.
We were playing Frisbee golf, and I was talking about
how much money we didn’t have, and I said we
were just a broke mountain band,” said guitar
player Rick Hauchman.
Sitting on the floor of an empty rental house, members
of the five-man band sip cold Rainiers and discuss
their short history together, the best happy hours
for free food and future plans, which right now don’t
extend far beyond the next few weeks. For the past
month, two members have been couch-surfing at the home
of two other band members. Yet, with the lease up – and
some of them soon to be homeless – they are unfazed.
We’re playing in Santa Fe this weekend after
String Cheese Incident,” they say. From there,
they’re embarking on a mini tour of the West,
crashing or camping wherever the road may take them.
And if their nonchalance seems uncharacteristic of
a budding new band, perhaps it is because the Broke
Mountain boys know that, just like their happenstance
meeting, fate will take care of itself.
The newest addition to Durango’s bluegrass scene
came about last winter when Hauchman and banjo player
Andy Thorn were visiting from North Carolina on a ski
vacation. While here, they stopped into Canyon Music
Woodworks, the workplace of Anders Beck.
They came in the store, picked up instruments and proceeded
to rip the hell out of them,” said Beck, a dobro
player who also plays with local bluegrass band The
Salty Dogs. Impressed, Beck invited the two to get
together with himself and two of his bandmates, bassist
Travis Book and mandolinist Robin Davis.
We played music for the next 18 hours straight because
it was so fun,” said Beck.
The chemistry among the players was so strong that
before heading home, plans were solidified for Hauchman
and Thorn to return in the summer.
They thought we were going to suck because there’s
no good bluegrass in Durango, Colorado,” said
Beck, making a friendly jab at the blueblood mentality
of many East Coast pickers.
And then Travis sang ‘Blue Night,’” returned
Hauchman, referring to an old Bill Monroe tune.
When Hauchman and Thorn returned a few months later,
the good times continued at the quintet’s reunion,
which took place at a loosely organized bluegrass “retreat” held
in the Utah desert.
It was pretty magical, really,” said Beck. “We
didn’t really know how it would work, but by
the middle of the first song, we were all looking around
at each other going, ‘Holy shit.’”
All in their early twenties – with the exception
of Beck, the old man of the band at 25 – and
sporting the prerequisite rumpled college look, the
Broke Mountain boys look very much the average garage
band. Yet, their ease with each other and their instruments
is something found only in more seasoned bands that
have seen many miles together. Likewise, their well-honed,
time-honored sound is not exactly what one would expect
from such fresh faces. Adhering to the traditional
tenets of bluegrass ala Earl Scruggs and Monroe, they
prefer unplugged instruments and crowding around a
single microphone to wa-wa pedals and synthesizers.
The five of us around the mic, that’s what it’s
all about,” said Beck.
In fact, some members of the band admit to having no
exposure to popular music whatsoever.
I don’t even know what Phish sounds like,” said
Davis, whose father is a bluegrass musician in Pagosa
It’s true,” said Book. “If you put
Phish, Widespread Panic and the Dead on the radio,
he wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.”
And while many of today’s bluegrass musicians
are bending the rules, incorporating contemporary styles,
the Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band believes in staying
the high-lonesome road.
We always play old school stuff,” said Hauchman. “There’s
something to be said that the sound going in to your
instrument and the sound coming out is what it really
Beck also points out that this style of acoustic playing
leaves little room for error.
Every note you play is important,” said Beck.
The softspoken Davis sums it up best: “There’s
But even more so than their own convictions, the boys
of Broke Mountain say what really matters is how their
music is perceived by the listening public. And old-time
bluegrass, they say, is one of the only types of music
able to cross all boundaries.
It appeals to everybody, more so than any other music
I know,” said Book. “It’s just pure.”
And while there is no doubt that, despite their boyish
appearance, Broke Mountain is a band advanced beyond
their years, they do admit they have a bit of an image
At one of our shows these moms came up to us and said, ‘You’re
so cute,’” said Thorn, a music major at
the University of North Carolina. “We’re
not cute. We’re trying to be serious here.”
Yet, in local musical circles, they say they are gaining
respect. Book says the older, more experienced local
bluegrass players have been generous with their enthusiasm
The Durango bluegrass establishment has been extremely
supportive,” he said. “They’re stoked
about us, and it feels good.”
And feeling good, after all, is really what it’s
We thought it would be fun to get together, and so
far it has been, and it’ll continue to be,” said
As for the future, it is a subject the Broke Mountain
boys, in characteristic fly-by-the-seat-of-their-cargo-pants
attitude, don’t dwell on. They do know that come
fall, Hauchman and Thorn will be returning to North
Carolina, but they have a feeling Broke Mountain won’t
just be a summer fling.
It definitely won’t be the end,” said Hauchman.