Winter Park/Live Music: Good friends, good tunes, good times |

Winter Park/Live Music: Good friends, good tunes, good times

Cyndi McCoy
Winter Park, Colorado

Like the railroad men who waited for eggs from the Cluck Ol’ Hen in “Leaving Jackson,” fans have been waiting for the dozen gems on Hunker Down’s album “Wood for the Fire.”

The bluegrass/folk CD, their first full-length studio recording, will be released Feb. 7. Members are pleased with the new “solid” album, with 12 of their best originals.

“It’s really a happy album,” said band member Yaniv Salzberg. Jesse McWilliams, who played djembe for two of the tracks, told Salzberg it has a “real woody,” natural sound.

“It’s a long time coming and something to be proud of,” Yaniv said.

The band played more than 100 performances in 2008, and has been “doin’ that for about three years now,” frontman Andy Straus said. All that time on stage readied them for the studio. When the time came, they looked for a “distraction-free, creative environment” to record and found one in South Park at The Barn Studio with Chuck Pierce.

“We were on a mission,” said Greg Travis of the endeavor, which started in May 2008.

It was an “eye-opening experience” producing the album themselves, Straus said. “It’ll be neat to see, through all the (distribution) avenues, how many will take off for us.”

To Travis, washboard player and drummer, the work is an accomplishment “just because we’ve always had these great tunes to play.” Although the band has kicked out several homestyle samplings of their work, “Wood for the Fire,” Straus said, is an opportunity for them to share their music with more people and a step “to take the band to the next level.” It allowed them to “get these (songs) down so we can move onto new music,” he said, adding that they are hoping to get back into the studio by the end of this year.

Friends got a taste of what was to come when hit “Winter Waltz” appeared on volume one of the This Side of Berthoud compilation.

“Winter Waltz” also appears on “Wood for the Fire.”

Matt Brown sings lead vocals for many of the danceable songs, including the This Side of Berthoud tune, “Ya Mule/Sand in my Shoes” and “Life Out on the Road.” Straus, who shares lead vocals and most of the songwriting with Brown, shines on mandolin in “Sand” and “Leaving Jackson.” His vocals on “Don’t Slow Down” and “Et Wah” are also something to be proud of.

“Canyon” kicks off the CD song list, written by fiddle player Bobby Krech, who also wrote the album’s “Old Fiddle.”

All six members will be in attendance for the CD release, including banjo player Branon Barrett.

“Everyone just likes to play their instruments,” Travis said. “Good friends, good tunes, good times ” The opportunity to play up here and be received so well by the community ” there’s nothing like that in the world. It’s just an exciting time for our band.”

He said they are trying to get the new album, which also includes “Judgment Day,” “Run Rabbit Run,” “Beer and Snow” and “Welcome to Our World” “into as many hands as possible.” A Fraser-style release party is scheduled at the Crooked Creek Saloon next Saturday, Feb. 14 “We’re in the icebox but we’re heating it up,” Straus said.

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