Sweet sounds at Moe’s BBQ in Tahoe City: Sweetwater String Band back in the Sierra

The Sweetwater String Band makes its annual Divided Sky appearance on Friday, Oct. 3.
The Sweetwater String Band  plays Monday, April 6 at Moe’s BBQ in Tahoe City.

Scott Roberts often dons waders for his day job as a biologist. He uses a mandolin for his other gig, playing in a bluegrass group called the Sweetwater String Band.

Bluegrass and biology research both are conducive to mountain environments, where Roberts has spent much of his life.

“I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains but it seems like the music scene in Colorado is even hotter,” said Roberts, whose Sweetwater String Band was formed at Mammoth Lakes.

The band returns to the Sierra Nevada on Monday, April 6 at Moe’s BBQ in Tahoe City. The show starts at 7 p.m.

Roberts’ relocation to Durango, Colo., could have broken up the band. Instead, it made it more focused.

“It may be a blessing in disguise because when we do get together we have more direction,” Roberts said. “We picked it up a step by being more apart geographically.”

David Huebner plays cello, Jeff Meadway the guitar and Patrick Ferguson bass.

The band recently released its second album, “Rhythm of Rhymes,” after recording sessions in December 2013 and April 2014.

“The first one (released in 2011) was representative of the way we started with dance music and as a band that could show everybody a great time,” Roberts said. “I think we’ve kept that vibe alive but with the new record I think the music and the songwriting is a little more developed, richer more diverse. We’ve incorporated that good, upbeat dance music but also added some more thought-provoking and serious lyrics that make the songs more powerful.”

And even more new music is being played at its live shows, he said.

No matter the mountain range, bluegrass music rise in popularity is obvious. Roberts attributes this to bluegrass being featured in the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou” and the a subsequent arena tour, seminal sounds featured and major festivals, especially Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and a demand for organic music in response to electronic and techno.

Robert said he was inspired by the portability of the instruments and the resonance of their unamplified sounds.

“This genre of music can be played in any room,” he said. “It can be played in an arena, a theater, a bar, but it can also be played on back porch, a front porch or a farm, on street corner and it sounds the same, if not better, acoustic.”

Here’s a video shot at Whaleshead Beach, Oregon. The song is “The Weather She Breaks.”

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Picture of Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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