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  • Bluegrass — and Bigfoot — season is here

    Eight Dollar Mountain emerges this spring with a new album to its credit
  • Drive — or a deeply human need to create high-energy bluegrass music — is what motivates the members of Eight Dollar Mountain.
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    • If you go
      Who: Eight Dollar Mountain
      and the Turner Moore Band
      When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 23
      Where: Applegate Lodge,
      15100 Highway 238, Applegate
      Cover: $10 at the door
      Call: 541-761-9353
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      If you go
      Who: Eight Dollar Mountain

      and the Turner Moore Band

      When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 23

      Where: Applegate Lodge,

      15100 Highway 238, Applegate

      Cover: $10 at the door

      Call: 541-761-9353
  • Drive — or a deeply human need to create high-energy bluegrass music — is what motivates the members of Eight Dollar Mountain.
    The band formed in early 2010, when its members — guitarist Darren Campbell, banjo player Stuart Green, mandolin player Phil Johnson, Peter Koelsch on stand-up bass, and Dobro player Mark Lackey — met at a bluegrass jam in the hills outside of Ashland. After plucking on a few standards, their passion for bluegrass became evident and the band's configuration was a natural progression.
    "Every one of us has different musical influences," Green says during a telephone interview. "I think one of our strengths is that we've come together with this band."
    Today, this group of solid bluegrass musicians delivers fiery licks, rhythms and melodies at their live shows and on their albums, "Wild River Country" (2010) and "Riverboat Gambler" (2012).
    Eight Dollar Mountain, along with the Turner Moore Band, will perform at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at Applegate Lodge, 15100 Highway 238, Applegate. The cover costs $10. Call 541-761-9353.
    A third album is set to be released in late spring. Its working title is "Tied to the Tracks," but that may change before the recording is officially out.
    "We like to leave ourselves open to opportunities," Green says.
    It was more than chance that brought Eight Dollar Mountain and Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon together at Dennis Dragon's recording studio at Pacifica Gardens in Williams.
    "We launched a Kickstarter campaign the second week of January that ran for 30 days," Lackey says. "We exceeded our goal of raising $10,000 to fund the recording. Some video campaigns on Kickstarter can be pretty standard. Ours had a story line written by Darren."
    The short, fictitious tale follows the band as it takes its stringed instruments into a wooded, country area to rehearse its music. A mythical creature — Herman dressed in a Bigfoot costume — scares the musicians off and steals their beer. Our antagonists flee to a nearby cabin where they meet Dragon ... and Herman carrying their beer.
    "Vince was such a sport in that Bigfoot costume, even when he fell into some icy cold water," Lackey says. "We'd been searching for a producer, and we knew then he was our man."
    The Kickstarter campaign also turned into an opportunity to engage listeners and generate new fans.
    "It was a good way to build momentum, buzz and hype behind the album before its release," Green says.
    With engineer Dragon and producer Herman at the helm, Eight Dollar Mountain recorded nine originals for the new album penned by various members of the band, along with covers of "These Old Blues" by first generation bluegrass master Larry Sparks and "Country Dave" by regional country and Americana band Jackstraw — plus a surprise tune.
    "The studio used to be owned by Steve Miller, so we felt compelled to cover one of his songs," Green says. "We want that song's title to remain a mystery until the album is released."
    The tunes on "Tied to the Tracks" are consistent with the band's earlier recordings in the sense that they're mostly written by the band's members. The point of departure, though, is that the album's sound is truer to stringed bluegrass instruments.
    "We were able to work in a top-notch recording studio with a professional engineer and producer," Green says. "We captured a certain tonal quality that is more authentic."
    One of Johnson's songs, "Family Kitchen," was written to be fast and up-tempo, but Herman had the idea to slow it down, Campbell says.
    "It took on a sweet, folksy tone and a nice feel," he says. "It stands out from other songs on the album."
    There's also the title track — a good representation of the band's drive — along with a couple of fast instrumentals — titled "Ambush" and "Old 77."
    Eight Dollar Mountain will open for Herman and his jamgrass band Leftover Salmon this summer, June 27, at Britt Festivals in Jacksonville.
    Herman and his band formed in the late '80s in Boulder, Colo. Herman now makes his home in Southern Oregon.
    "Leftover Salmon was huge in Boulder where I went to college," Campbell says. "It's fun to reconnect with that band and see what they're up to. They have a fun energy, and Vince has a level of energy that explodes when he walks on stage."
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