December 18th, 2007 by Russ
[fa:p:id=2113794806,j=r,s=s,l=p]One of our favorite bluegrass outfits, Green Moutain Grass packs the house at Ruta Maya every time they play. Christine and Hilary caught up with these cats at the South Padre Music Festival.
AUSTIN DAZE: We are here in Beautiful South Padre Island with Green Mountain Grass: Dave, Jesse, Pickles, Trevor. How long have you been playing together?
DAVE: The Band’s been around quite awhile. The current lineup has been together for 7 months or 8 months since we picked up Trevor in a flea market in Tucson, AZ.
AD: What a bargain
D: It was a good deal, it was more free than anything else, standing there with his light sabre and banjo.
JESSE: He cost a lot to feed though, so it ended up a sour deal, I feel.
AD: Are you going to let them say all that?
TREVOR: It’s all true.
J: He eats a lot; he’s a growing boy.
AD: How did you know you were going to all stick together and make the band?
D: Well we all love music; love playing all the time.
J: I think it took about 150 shows to realize “Hey, maybe this is working a little bit!”
T: And maybe not working, so we need to make that work.
D: Yeah, we can make not working work, cause I guess, technically in most peoples eyes, playing music is not working, but it is actually working, so….
T: Exactly my point.
AD: I concur. So what is the significance of y’all’s band name?
P: We’re actually called Green Mountain Grass, not Green Grass Mountain, and a lot of people call us Blue Mountain Grass, which is not what we are. The name Green Mountain Grass came from our love for the mountains of Vermont, we’ve been there a number of times–it’s a great place.
J: It’s the politics of Vermont that really gets us. That and our original guitar player is from Vermont. He and Dave originally formed the band a long, long time ago in a galaxy not too far away, in Champagne, Urbana or Shampoo Banana, Illinois. What was the name then?
D: We had another name in the beginning, it was called Brushfire for a little while but then we found out there was another band called Brushfire that had been around for twenty-five years. So then we went for a little bit calling ourselves Prawgrass.
P: Thank God we’re not Prawgrass anymore.
D: So we’ve been several different things. One time we played a show as the Pink Canyon Pushers.
J: I always like Diahrrea Raincoat. I got voted out of that
D: Yeah, that’s a good one.
J: Or Secret Ions. Read it together, heh heh. I got voted out of that one too. So we just stuck with Green Mountain Grass. You know it’s got a ring to it and people recognize it in the Midwest. Seeing as how we’ve been all over with this name from Seattle, Maine, to Georgia, we might as well stick with it.
AD: Where’s your home base?
D: Austin, Texas.
J: Where the girls have tattoos and the guys have long hair, or that’s what they tell me.
AD: I don’t have any tattoos.
D: But you have long hair
AD: Does that make me a guy?
D: Wait a minute, wait a minute.
AD: No, I’m a girl I’m a girl! So what do you think of the state of the bluegrass scene in general and in Austin?
T: Um, I don’t want to answer that.
P: Trevor has a lot of thoughts on that subject. Okay, I’ll start with me. My thought on the subject is that the bluegrass resource has not really been tapped and that’s one of our goals down here. There’s the South Austin Jug Band and the Two High String Band who are really awesome, amazing musicians. The Two High String band are a pretty progressive bluegrass band, and the South Austin Jug Band, those guys are whiz kids. But we’re taking it to a different level. We’re jamming a lot; we’re expressing our ideas through our instruments with experimentations not so much through licks, but crazy sounds and arrangements.
J: It goes along with the “Keep Austin Weird” Stickers. It’s kind of like “Keep Austin Bluegrass Weird” is what we’re going for here.
D: There seems to be some buegrass bands out of Austin. There’s a good string scene in Austin, there’s a lot of string players here who play acoustic music and do a fine job, but there’s not a whole ton of bluegrass bands playing out of Austin and that’s fine–it’s cool. We’re enjoying ourselves, we play Austin quite often.
AD: Where do you play in Austin?
D: Ruta Maya, Stubbs Indoors, Shoal Creek Saloon, Club 115, we’re about to do our first show at the Saxon Pub the first of December with the South Austin Jug Band. Golly, where else have we played?
T: Mean eyed Cat.
AD: How about Ruta Maya?
D: Ruta Maya’s really cool. It’s actually, personally speaking, one of the best sounds we’ve gotten in a club in Austin. It’s like the sound guy, he’s just amazing and the people who are working their sound are tremendous. Every show we’ve had there has been good. The last one was with Two High String band was gangbusters, it was really, really good. A lot of people, a lot of dancing, fun.
J: I guess that’s also one of the hardest things about Austin, is to draw people out ’cause there’s just so much live music, so if you can draw people in Austin….
P: A hand bill is worthless.
J: Yeah, a handbill is worthless, because if you’re putting it on someone’s car, there’s probably four more you’re putting it on top of on their windshield. You know, it is the live capital. You can go to Nashville and it’s the live country music capital of the world, you can go to New York and it’s the live jazz and hip-hop capital of the world, but Austin has reggae, jazz, hip-hop, country, all and anything in-between.
P: Everybody, I mean everybody is a musician in Austin .
D: There’s just so much live music in Austin , it’s a focus, people go out. Actually, a lot of Texas is that way, Austin , the Hill Country and surrounding area, Dallas /Fort -Worth, Houston , the Coast, everyone really digs live music in Texas .
J: They are patrons of the arts; what we’re trying to find in our audience.
AD: They are cultured Texans.
J: Might seem like an oxymoron to someone in north Dakota, but they actually need to come on down to Austin and experience the flowering growth of love for music.
P: Well said!
AD: So I heard this crazy rumor that you have an album in the works.
D: It’s true
AD: How’s it going?
J: We’ve been working really hard in the studio, pumping out tracks, working with geniuses.
D: We’re on a small record label out of Dripping Springs called Zone Records, which is based out of Zone Recording Studios. They backed up our last album, Both Sides of the Mountain and they’re doing this new record with us which we are titling As the Crow Flies. We’ve gotten the majority of the tracks finished up. We have to go in and finish a couple more and get the formatting together. I think the goal is to get it out by mid to late January.
J: And then go take a tour, go all the way through Colorado, all the way to Montana , back over to Seattle , down to San Diego, and back to Texas. Then take a month’s break and do the Eastern Seaboard and all the way around up to New England and such.
D: and then come back home again. You know the last two years, since we moved to Austin, we’ve been on the road every other month. We play about 240 shows a year. We’re trying to find time to really focus on Texas, to be in Austin and hang out and be around ’cause we’ve missed it, kind of. We live in Austin but we’ve been on the road so much.
AD: So do you have any advice for musicians just starting out?
D: In my experience, just do it, as hard as you can, go play.
J: If you’re going to just sit around and play video games, or sit around and watch TV, turn that crap off, and pick your instrument up. If you’re going to watch Star Wars for 12 hours (sorry Trevor) you might as well play the guitar. Pick up your banjo while you’re watching Star Wars and learn the Jazz Cantina song from it. Learn the theme. I sit around “Hey that’s a cool little lick” on that commercial– I try to figure it out. If you want to go to school, pursue that route. Join the band. I was in a garage band, anyone else?
D: I was in a garage band. My first band was a death metal band in Upstate New York. A bad, bad death metal band, horrible, definitely.
J: My first band was a Gun’s n Roses cover band. Pickle’s is a more orchestral sound, he’s bringing that classical and gypsy swing over. Trevor’s from outer space, I don’t understand how someone can pick up a banjo five years ago and be so good at it as he is today.
T: Thanks for that slight compliment.
J: uh, I don’t know it’s taken six months to squeeze that (compliment) out, it might be the beer, I don’t know.
AD: It sounds like you all are brothers, not just band members.
D: We’ve spent a lot of time together.
J: And through the question game. We play the question game on the road, where you ask a question and they have to answer it truthfully, and in return they get to ask someone else a question. We learned a lot of deep, deep dark very embarrassing secrets about each other.
D: Things you don’t want to know.
AD: Are you sure?
J: You’d have to edit this…make it a disclaimer you have to be 18 to view this.
AD: Is there anything else you want to tell us? Anything we need to know about the Green Mountain Grass?
D: yes, come see us in Austin. We play at club 115 pretty regularly on Wednesdays into January before we get out on the road again. Hit our website, www.greenmountaingrass.net.
J: You can download free shows off of archive.org, anytime you want to tape or film us feel free, but please, if you’re going to burn our album from anywhere, you can send us five dollars, look up our address.
D: If you can afford it.
J: Right, if you can afford it. But for the most part we make our living doing live shows, that’s what we do best, so if you want to support us please come and see us.