Sweetgrass at Club 66

Sweetgrass, an Ashland-based band with original music that blends breezy Hawaiian melodies and harmonies with rootsy bluegrass, will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, at Club 66, 1951 Ashland St. The cover costs $5.

"The band has about 20 original songs," says Ben Gaskin, principal songwriter, vocalist and ukulele player. "We do a couple of covers. One is an old, Calypso-style tune called 'The Big Bamboo.' It's a sing-along I learned from my neighbors while I lived in Hawaii. The other is 'You Don't Write' by the Ka'au Crater Boys."

Gaskin has another 25 or so older originals to his credit."I want to focus on new songs for this band," he says. "Life keeps unfolding."

Gaskin lived on Kauai for nine years, where he learned to play guitar and ukulele. Before that, he lived in Colorado for 10 years.

Living in those locales resulted in a sound rooted in bluegrass with an island twist.

Sweetgrass features Frankie Hernandez on djembe, trumpet and vocals, lead guitarist Anthony Cuzensa, bassist Robbie Lindauer and Chari Weatherford on washboard.

"I write songs on guitar or ukulele," Gaskin says. "I'm always surprised at the level that my talented bandmates can take them to."

— Laurie Heuston

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