Spring Creek Bluegrass gets picked up by Rebel Records, new album expected in ‘09

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:: Spring Creek ::
:: Gold Hill Inn :: October 17 :: 
:: Hodi’s Half Note :: October 18 :: 
:: Salida Steam Plant :: October 24 ::
:: Chautauqua Community House :: October 25 ::

By Kathy Foster-Patton

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Spring Creek Bluegrass Band isn’t resting on their laurels. After winning the prestigious 2007 Telluride and RockyGrass band contests, they have spent the last year hustling around the country, working to get their music heard. All that hard work paid off last month when they signed a recording agreement with Rebel Records. Bassist Jessica Smith took a few minutes out from a rest day on the road in Texas to share their experiences with The Marquee.

Smith is joined in Spring Creek by Chris Elliot on banjo, Taylor Sims on guitar and Alex Johnstone on mandolin and fiddle. All of the band members sing and write music and Smith is eager to preach the word about Spring Creek. They are young, but she asserts that they keep their music fresh due to the four years they have played together. “We built up a big repertoire of songs. We mostly play long sets — either a set that is an hour-and-a-half long, or two 45-minute long sets. We make a new set list for every show. All four of us put the set list together. I write them out because I’m the girl and I have the neatest handwriting,” she joked.

Pride and optimism resonate in her voice when she talks about the deal with Rebel. “We’ll have a new CD out next spring, and probably spend December in the studio.” And, she explained, the agreement is one that’s a bit different in the industry. “We signed for a one record deal, with an 18 month time period. It’s set up to make sure both parties are happy. At the end of that time, we’ll just take it from there,” she said. The recording with Rebel will be their third CD, following their 2006 debut, Rural & Cosmic Bluegrass, and Lonesome Way to Go, which was released last March.

Smith does her share of songwriting in the band, but gives a thumbs-up to Elliot for his talents in that arena. “He does some really creative things, with unusual and cool chords,” Smith said.

Elliot, Sims, and Smith all went to school at South Plains College in Texas, where Smith graduated with a degree in commercial music. Johnstone joined the band when Sims picked him up hitchhiking outside of Crested Butte one day. Such was the genesis of Spring Creek.

On the day Smith spoke to The Marquee, the band was relaxing at the home of Sims’ parents, gathering their strength for a tour of the southeastern U.S. that will include four days of performances at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual convention in Nashville. “We are really excited that we are going as a band to IBMA. Last year I went, but Taylor was getting married, so we couldn’t go together with all of us,” Smith said. “We have a lot of showcases scheduled and hopefully we will turn some heads.”

The travel schedule has been in full swing since their victories in the band contests in 2007. “It definitely gets stressful, traveling in the van all the time. Living out of a suitcase is rough. We’re all such good friends and work to keep each other entertained. We try to make it fun,” she said.

Once a bluegrass band has made a name for itself, it almost naturally relocates to Nashville, the epicenter of bluegrass and country in the U.S., but Smith said there are no plans for Spring Creek to do that. “No, not yet. We like Lyons and Colorado,” she said. ‘Yet’ might be the operative word. They moved to Lyons as a group to become part of its thriving bluegrass music scene and then became hometown heroes after their big wins at the festivals in 2007.

Spring Creek’s hopes for the future are straightforward as elaborated by Smith. “Get our music heard. We’re excited about Rebel because we think it will open doors in distribution. We’d love to be on the Grand Ole Opry….” If they keep doing what they’re doing, there’s no telling where you might see them.

:: Spring Creek ::
:: Gold Hill Inn :: October 17 ::
:: Hodi’s Half Note :: October 18 ::
:: Salida Steam Plant :: October 24 ::
:: Chautaqua Community House :: October 25 ::

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