Low Flying Birds spread wings into Crown Room

Tahoe Onstage

Low Flying Birds are on the move, opening for the Travelin’ McCourys.

The early birds will catch a band with an appetite for bluegrass.

Chico’s Low Flying Birds will open Friday’s Crystal Bay Casino show for the Travelin’ McCourys.

Guitarist Doug Stein said fans can expect “a healthy dose of original Northern California newgrass and a chance to dance and have fun.”

Stein said his band is excited to warm up the crowd for the McCourys. “Love them! We saw them at the Sierra Nevada brewery here in Chico not too long ago and were completely blown away. We are beyond thrilled to be opening for them.”

It will be the first Crown Room appearance for the Low Flying Birds, which played Crystal Bay’s Red Room on Dec. 30. The Birds then flew to Nevada City for a New Year’s Eve show.

“The shows went great. We played until about 3 a.m. in the Red Room and had an amazing reception from the late night crew. New Year’s at the Crazy Horse Saloon was equally off the hook. The show was sold out pretty quickly with packed dance floor madness until closing time. Then we all stayed up until sunrise picking and singing, which seemed like a great idea until about noon…ouch!”

In addition to Stein, the band includes guitarist Dustin Rohleder and bassist Curtis “The Kinductor” Peldo, mandolinist Clinton Woodbeck and banjo player Zach Hudson. Each musician sings and writes songs.

“With this band there are different flavors, which is really great, and now I don’t have to sing all night,” said Stein, who in his youth was a rock and roller from Chicago. At the age of 17, he moved to North Carolina.

“I met guys who played bluegrass and sang harmony and I was like, ‘Oh my God, what is that?’ ” he said.

Stein, 51, is one of the two older players in the band.

“The bass player also is from my generation,” he said. “It’s really a joy to hang out with younger, talented people except when I try to explain stuff to them. (They’ll say, ‘Who’s Mary Tyler Moore?’) But I always think that music is a language and you can speak the language when your 10 or when you’re 70, and how well you speak the language is all that really matters.”

The 2000 movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” inspired a generation of bluegrass musicians, but there are other factors that have made the genre especially popular, Stein said.

“I believe that (‘Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?’) was like a seed. But I just feel also that it might be a bit of a reaction against all of the technology,” he said. “Everything is so beat orientated. When you’re a singer-songwriter you can get your message across far easier acoustically. Also, it’s really a joy for us to be able to show up anywhere and play unplugged.”

Low Flying Birds currently are in the studio working on their first full-length CD, which the band hopes to have finished in the next few months. The Birds flock back the Crazy Horse in Nevada City on Saturday, April 14.

  • The Travelin’ McCourys
    Two sets, second set ‘all Dead, all night’
    Opener: Low Flying Birds
    Red Room after-Party: Lost Whiskey Engine
    When: 9 p.m. Friday, March 9
    Where: Crystal Bay Casino
    Tickets: $20 in advance or $23 at the door

    Swamp Zen

    Chico’s Swamp Zen is pictured above in the cozy 3rd Street Bar during the 2016 Off Beat Festival.
    Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

About 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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