MUSIC BOX: Dirt Road refuses to get paved
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – For every 40 or so bands that have some version of an online presence, there exists a musical project that flies completely under the radar to audiences outside of their home zip code. Side projects, one-offs, combos, jam sessions, and 80-year-olds usually fall into this hard-to-pin-down crew of musicians. But occasionally, there are hard working, ultra-talented professionals that still manage to function in a space that exists through the old-fashioned principles of face-to-face networking, established relationships with venues, and keen chops.
Enter Teton Valley’s Dirt Road Trio, consisting of singer-songwriter Greg Creamer on guitar, Ted Wells on banjo and harmony vocals, and Keith Phillips on accordion.
No website, no Facebook page, no posted recordings, no advertised gig schedule, just three veterans of the area music scene that like making great music together.
The foundational glue that holds their sound together is the rhythm chops of Creamer (pronounced “Kramer”). Creamer also plays in Chanman Roots Band, is a go-to sideman, and a recording engineer/producer out of his home studio in Driggs, dubbed PureLand Studio (GregCreamerMusic.com). His role is usually that of a lead and fills man, an icing-on-the-cake instrumentalist. In Dirt Road Trio, he is the trunk.
“I’m bringing the rhythm and chordal framework and they are bringing the flesh,” Creamer said from his studio. “These guys are in a different league than me. They are monster players and I know that I’m on to something if I can keep those guys interested in playing with me.”
The Dirt Road repertoire meanders from Nashville to Memphis, onwards to New Orleans and even jumping ocean to the sounds of Europe in Austria, Germany and Italy. The latter international flair developed when Phillips joined the project about a year and a half ago. A handful of Creamer originals are interspersed with beautiful instrumental waltzes, mazurkas (Polish folk dance in triple meter), zydeco, European traditionals (“Arrivederci Roma”), and a heavy batch from veterans of the Americana scene (Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Subdudes).
As for Phillips and Wells, their individual careers are telling. Wells is a founding member of bluegrass quartet Loose Ties with Ben Winship and Phil Round, is a member of Major Zephyr/Ghost Rider, and operates Alpenglow Farms in Victor. Phillips, who spent 16 years as keyboardist and keyboard programmer for the national tours of Evita and Cats as well as on Broadway in New York City, is known locally for his jazz and classical chops as a pianist at Warbirds Cafe and The Granary.
Dirt Road Trio, 3 to 6 p.m., on Saturday in the Trap Bar at Grand Targhee Resort. Free. GrandTarghee.com. (Also catch duo versions of the band at Warbirds in Driggs and The Alpenhof in Teton Village.)
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Wylie evokes breadth of West
It’s a testament to the music when a group has played the Grand Ole Opry more than 50 times, as Montanan Wylie Gustafson and his gang has. A yodeler, songwriter, rancher, horseman and famous “yahooer” for Yahoo.com, Wylie’s game is cowpoke cool. So forget everything you hate about new country and CMT, this is authentic cowboy and western music. Just last week, the group walked out of a Nashville studio after recording its 20th album. They roll into Jackson to perform at the Journey School Gala and Auction (RSVP closed) as well as a stop at The Wort.
Wylie and the Wild West, 8 to 11 p.m., Thursday, at Silver Dollar Bar. Cowboy, country-western. Free. 732-3939.