Keweenaw Brewgrass at The Orpheum Theater
The sounds of the Keweenaw Brewgrass will soon be filling The Orpheum Theater when they play this Saturday.
Band member Marshall Weathersby said the band came together in Michigan Technological University’s civil engineering lab when three band members (Bogue Sandberg, Doug Oppliger and Jim Hertel) got together for lunchtime picking sessions.
“Several of us had played individually in folk, rock and even jazz bands,” Weathersby said in an email. “…We banded together.”
The name of the band came about when they were playing at the Keweenaw Brewing Company and someone asked what the band’s name was.
“For a lack of a name, we said Keweenaw Brewgrass and it stuck,” Weathersby said.
Weathersby that between the five members of the band, which includes Weathersby and Craig Kurtz, the influences are too many to list, but some of the shared influences include Bob Wills, Bill Monroe, The Austin Lounge Lizards, The Beatles, Ricky Skaggs and Chris Smithers.
“We’re attached to any song that has a good melody line, a great story and room for rhythm,” Weathersby said.
While their name may suggest that they play specifically bluegrass music, Weathersby said they play an eclectic mix of “anything rhythmic.”
“We tend towards bluegrass for the rhythms and harmonies but quickly move out of traditional bluegrass into Texas swing and acoustic rock classics,” Weathersby said.
For the show they are playing at The Orpheum Theater, Weathersby said the band has added more “danceable tunes.”
However, Weathersby said the band prefers to play acoustic, but that’s mostly because they don’t want to have to carry around heavy sound equipment.
The crowd reaction for the band, according to Weathersby, includes everything from yawns to people dancing.
“It’s great fun to make eye contact with members of the audience and see them singing along,” Weathersby said. “Last time we played at the Orpheum, the audience and (us) were having so much, we finished out set and just kept on playing.”
The band started playing at the McArdle Theatre at Tech in April of 2007. They play regularly at the Keweenaw Brewing Company, The Bluffs for happy hour, Carmelita’s and The Orpheum Theater.
Despite however much the band loves playing, Weathersby said it is only a hobby and does not pay the bills.
“The word amateur is French meaning doing what you love or admire,” Weathersby said. “We’re definitely amateurs.”