Editor’s note: The Sweetwater String Band will be the first group to play the Concerts at Commons Beach Sunday series on June 19, hitting the sand at 3 p.m. The Dustbowl Revival plays afterward, wrapping up at 7 p.m.
Sweet water and bluegrass can be found in the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada and the Bighorn Mountains. The members of the bluegrass group Sweetwater String Band can be found in those places, too.
The band’s songwriters, mandolin player Scott Roberts and cello player Dave Huebner, live in Durango, Colorado, and Sheridan, Wyoming, respectively. Guitarist Jeff Meadway and bass player Patrick Ferguson live at Mammoth Lakes, California. Getting together for rehearsals, obviously, is not practical. Instead the band simply goes on two-to three-week tours.
“When we get together for 14 to 20 shows in a row it really locks the songs in better than if we rehearse once a week,” Huebner said. “When we play for the first time, we are rusty and dusty and after a few shows we are working in new songs. We try new material every trip.”
Sweetwater String Band formed in 2008 when each member lived in Mammoth Lakes. It released two albums, a self-titled debut in 2011 and “River of Rhymes” 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 told Tahoe Onstage before the band’s last visit here. “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.”
The players have enough material for a third record and they hope to get in the studio to record it in the late fall or early winter.
Band members like to call their music soulgrass, which “blends Chatham County Line style lyricism with Yonder Mountain String Band style energy.” Sweetwater String Band has appeared at RapidGrass, YarmonyGrass, Lost Sierra Hoedown, Durango Bluegrass Meltdown, Millpond Music Festival and Humboldt Hills Hoedown, as well as upcoming appearances at the Parkfield Bluegrass Festival, Huck Finn Jubilee, Kate Wolf and Strawberry Music Festivals.
The Sweetwater String Band plays Truckee Thursdays on June 16 and will open the Commons Beach Sunday concert series with Dustbowl Revival on June 19.
Before the band formed, its members attended shows at the Divided Sky in Meyers by their friends in The Trespassers. After they started their own band, they began to perform at the Divided Sky as well.
“We love that place, Huebner said. “We’ve played several shows there over the years.”
- Sweetwater String Band
June 19 – Commons Beach, Tahoe City