Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band 20th Anniversary

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band Reunites With Album Release, Anniversary Shows

by Nov 27, 2023

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band Reunites With Album Release, Anniversary Shows

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band recently re-released their album, “Cabin In The Hills,” available HERE. 

The band will reunite to celebrate the album release and their 20th Anniversary with two shows at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver, Colorado on December 1st and 2nd. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

Jump to the Broke Mountain Senior Superlatives to see who the boys voted as Best Dressed, Class Clown, and more!

 

In the annals of history, there have been moments that transcend time and space, where forces of nature collide to create something that is larger than the sum of its parts, resulting in a new force of nature altogether.

The League of Nations. Reeces Peanut Butter Cups. The Avengers.  Watson and Crick.  Ben and Jerry.  The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones.

These are all Proper Nouns.

In the world of music, there have been several such mergers that have rocked the musical landscape to its foundation, changing the future of genres and ripping apart the norms.

The Beatles.  Cream.  Traveling Wilburys.  Blind Faith.  Temple of the Dog.  The Spice Girls.

These are all names of bands.

Another Proper Noun that is also the name of a band is Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band.

Or, Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band, for short.

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band | Beth Cooke photo

Early photo of Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band | Beth Cooke photo

Formed 20 years ago, Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band was nothing short of an act of fate, with consequences that would echo through decades, sending ripples throughout the world of bluegrass music that are still felt today, much like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough did to ice cream.

Consisting of Anders Beck, Travis Book, Robin Davis, Jon Stickley, and Andy Thorn, Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band first came together in Durango, Colorado in 2003.  As the story goes, Andy Thorn stopped at Canyon Music Woodworks and met Anders Beck, who was working in the shop.  After picking in the shop, Anders suggested they continue the jam, and, along with Travis Book, the young pickers ended up at Robin Davis’ house for a jam that would change history. 

“I didn’t feel like it was fate or anything super heavy,” recalls Anders Beck.  “I was really just blown away that such young kids could play bluegrass instruments the way they did. Durango was cool and all, and there were some pickers around…. but NOT like Andy Thorn. Inviting those guys to come jam with us was, more than anything else, a way for that moment not to end. I guess it worked, since here we are 20 years later.”

Based on the chemistry and magic created in that first jam session, Anders eventually convinced Andy Thorn to relocate from North Carolina to Colorado, and Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band was formed.  The group would famously go on to win the Rockygrass Band Competition in their first summer performing together, then with original guitarist Rick Hauchman

After the first summer with that lineup, Thorn eventually convinced his long-time friend and life buddy Jon Stickley to join the fold.

As Stickley recalls it, “I was supposed to go out the first summer (‘03) but I had an internship with Alaska State Parks lined up. The following summer, I was going to be a missionary but was sitting in school one day, and it became clear to me that if there was still a chance to play in Broke Mountain I should give it a go. I  was hoping to just focus on music, play cool festivals, and enjoy Colorado… I got exactly what I was looking for!”

With the lineup solidified as Beck, Book, Davis, Stickley, and Thorn, the group went on to record their first and only studio album, “Cabin In The Hills.”

“20 years ago when we recorded this record we had no idea what we were doing,” says Travis Book, “but we were learning fast and riding the high of being in a band that clicked, that had a vibe, and that we all intuitively knew was going places.”

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band "Cabin In The Hills" Album cover

“Cabin In The Hills” by Broke Mountain Bliegrass Band.  2004

Unfortunately, the ride was brief for Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band. 

Only a few years into the newfound success for these young artists, opportunities arose that would eventually signal the end of Broke Mountain.

Andy Thorn was the first to answer another call, going on to join Larry Keel and Natural Bridge.   

“Despite having just won Rockygrass, and having some buzz around us, the band still wasn’t exactly making enough money to get by,” says Thorn.  “I was also finishing up my last year of college, and was worried about moving away from my friends and family. So when I got the offer to join Larry Keel’s bluegrass band — which had a big summer of festivals lined up, where’d I’d get to jam with a bunch of my heroes, while staying closer to home — I took it. I don’t regret it, because I learned so much from the Keels and their compadres.”

And time marched on. 

Eventually, an emotional cowboy movie emerged that took the spotlight from Broke Mountain, and all of the members of the original band grew and developed into new projects that would continue to shape modern bluegrass music.

Robin Davis, Travis Book, and Anders Beck briefly joined up with Benny “Burl” Galloway – who had contributed to “Cabin In The Hills” – in the Wayward Sons.    

Travis Book would then go on to join the newly formed Infamous Stringdusters, who have since won a Grammy, amongst many other accolades.

Anders Beck would be scooped up by another new bluegrass band about to make waves of their own, Greensky Bluegrass, who would win the Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition in 2006.

Guitarist Jon Stickley returned to North Carolina and eventually formed the Jon Stickley Trio.

Robin Davis joined forces with his then-girlfriend, now wife, Jimi, in the Robin Davis Duo.

Andy Thorn continued with Larry Keel for a time before joining up with the Drew Emmitt Band, and ultimately the jamgrass pioneers, Leftover Salmon.

Drew Emmitt & Andy Thorn - Sleepy Creek Spring Dig 2019

Andy Thorn and Drew Emmitt | 2019 Festy GoNuts

In the two decades since the formation of Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band, it is easy for the early achievements of this talented group to be overshadowed by the notoriety of their current projects. 

Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass, and, of course, Leftover Salmon are the biggest names in modern bluegrass and jamgrass, period.  Jon Stickley Trio is a musical force, creating a genre of its own, releasing several much-heralded albums, and touring the country regularly.  Robin Davis is still known as one of the best flat-pickers in Colorado, and the Robin Davis Duo is a Southern Colorado staple, consistently found playing throughout the state.

Asked how the early experiences of Broke Mountain may have prepared these 5 for their future success, Travis Book says, “We were actually pretty clueless during the Broke Mountain era! We just thought we’d play and party and everything would pan out… and on one level that’s true. But when I got to Nashville I had a rude awakening; the amount of preparation everyone was putting in was something I was not accustomed to. I was tricked into thinking the entire enterprise needed to be taken seriously! It was only once I left Nashville that I realized that the Broke Mountain ethos was actually a pretty great way to approach life and music and I’ve been working my way back toward that pure perspective ever since!”

Andy Thorn continues, “Not everyone gets the chance to be in a band that is, essentially, a group of best friends, all figuring it out together.  Maybe it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. But maybe it had to work out this way, for each of us to chart our own path in this industry. It’s been amazing to support each other as we all branch in different directions within the same musical community.”

Rhythms on the Rio 2023 | Big River Collective

Anders Beck and Travis Book perform in Denver, CO in 2017 | Festy GoNuts

But despite the current success stories, it’s the origin story of the 5 friends that has created a legend in its own right.  Reunions had been hinted at, and there have been brief moments throughout the years where they came pretty darn close. 

Then, in 2019, Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band was reunited in its entirety at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and it was as if the years had evaporated.  5 friends once again made magic.  Regardless of their individual fame, when they come together they were still just 5 young friends in a 2-man tent, picking bluegrass and enjoying life.

“I will admit, it was heartbreaking when the band parted ways, but that’s partly why it’s so heartwarming when we get back together,” says Robin Davis.   “Especially considering how hard it is to coordinate everyone’s schedules and find little windows of time when we can all get together and play. But we are a group of genuine friends with undeniable artistic chemistry so we won’t be kept apart.”

Luckily, one such window of time is upon us as Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band is reuniting once more, celebrating their 20-year anniversary with 2 nights at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver.  But you won’t be seeing a reunion show of aging musicians struggling to fit into their leather pants and hit the high notes. No, these are 5 musicians in their prime, celebrating the path that brought them here. 

A path that began with a chance encounter in a music shop in 2003.

“Looking back on that weekend [meeting Andy Thorn in 2003], it is crazy to even think about,” opines Anders Beck.   “The friendships and music spawned from a chance encounter makes me believe in some sort of universal shit or something!”

Some sort of universal shit or something.  And universal shit can’t easily be flushed away. 

As Robin Davis says of the future, “Expect more shows and a new album, but twenty years after forming it is apparent that Broke Mountain Bluegrass band is a rarity that should be appreciated to the fullest while it exists.”

 

LISTEN TO/PURCHASE “CABIN IN THE HILLS” 

GET TICKETS TO BROKE MOUNTAIN BLUEGRASS BAND AT CERVANTES, DECEMBER 1 & 2, 2023. 

SENIOR SUPERLATIVES WITH BROKE MOUNTAIN BLUEGRASS BAND

For their 20 Year Reunion, we had the members of Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band vote on their best qualities.

Here’s what they decided:

BEST DANCER:  Travis Book

LIFE OF THE PARTY:  Andy Thorn

CUTEST:  Robin Davis

CLASS CLOWN:  Anders Beck

BEST DRESSED:   Jon Stickley

BONUS FUN FACT

MOST LIKELY TO CHANGE CLOTHES ANYWHERE:

All 5 say they will literally drop trau in a parking lot.

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band | Strings and Sol 2021 | Festy GoNuts

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band | Strings and Sol 2021 | Festy GoNuts

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band | Cabin In The Hills album photo

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band | Cabin In The Hills album photo

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Jason

Jason has been in love with the festy lifestyle ever since his first festival experience, The Great Went in August of 1997. Whew. That was a while ago. Jason loves the way festivals free us from the constraints of the outside world, and let us be our true "fest" selves!

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