By MICHELLE SCHMIDT INLAND360.COM
Two things are typically true of Beargrass fans: They enjoy live traditional country music and they arent afraid to move a little when they hear it played.
In fact, thats why Beargrass is releasing their third album, Basic Elements of Love, comprised primarily of crowd-favorite covers. The album debuts Saturday, May 10 at a CD release party in Clarkston.
Beargrass isnt the only local group out there performing traditional country music, but they are among the few groups whose song set is largely determined by their audience.
Thats what sets us apart, said Alane Watkins, who is on vocals and guitar. Were live. We can really play to the crowd.
That means if you are at one of their concerts, you can ask for any traditional country song and thats what youll hear. This is largely thanks to Shayne Watkins, Alanes husband, who leads with guitar and mandolin.
Shayne is steeped in traditional country music. When he gets a music request, hell think about it a second. Then hell say Were in the key of C and were on. Were tight enough and know each other well enough that we just go with it, Alane Watkins said.
And when fans get to hear their favorite songs Beargrass-style, its not uncommon for some dancing to break out.
We encourage people to dance, she said. Thats what music is for.
Their latest album was created because fans kept requesting recorded copies of the cover songs that Beargrass regularly performs. In addition to the covers, there are two original songs, along with a parody of Margaritaville, retitled Metamucilville. It is, not surprisingly, a humorous song about aging.
Beargrass takes a couple different forms. Shayne and Alane Watkins have appeared as a bluegrass and folk duo since 2006 and travel throughout the Northwest. They recently won the Cowboy Idol Contest at the Columbia River Cowboy Gathering.
But the full four-person band, which includes Kendall Heustis on drums and Camille Hattrup on bass guitar, is the meat and potatoes of the group, Alane Watkins said. The full group formed in 2010 and performs at fairs, festivals and events throughout the region. Theyre regular performers at the Clarkston Moose Lodge, where dozens of couples dance to their music.
We play the kind of songs that people like to hear, she said, adding thats what the band and their new album is all about. If you go What: Beargrass CD release party When: 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, May 10 Where: Clarkston Moose Lodge ballroom, 814 Sixth St. in Clarkston Cost: $5. The CD is available for purchase for $10 at the release party, at www.beargrassband.com for $10 plus shipping or digitally on cdbaby.com.