Itâ€™s rare that a four-year-old band can claim to have performed on the stages of Telluride Bluegrass Festival, High Sierra Music Festival, Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Rockygrass Bluegrass Festival, Blue Ridge Harvest Fest, Bean Blossom, and many other renowned venues from North Carolina to California. Seldom are young bluegrass bands considered â€œauthenticâ€ enough to share the stage with the likes of Jimmy Martin, J.D. Crowe, Hot Rize, Rhonda Vincent, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, David Grisman, Ricky Skaggs, and many other recognized musicians in bluegrass musicâ€”yet also have such a fresh presence that they are invited to perform alongside popular acts like Creedence Clearwater Revisited, G. Love & Special Sauce, Galactic, and Medeski Martin & Wood. And not very often does a band save up their gig money for a year in order to finance their debut CD, and then sell out of two thousand copies in less than two months from the back of their Ford van. These sorts of achievements donâ€™t come easily for any band, and they certainly didnâ€™t come easily for Hit & Run; yet somehow, this young group of hard-working Colorado musicians have carved their own vision and shared these successes.
Hit & Run Bluegrass formed in early 2002 with the mutual desire to play authentic-yet-modern bluegrass. A few months later, the group of stellar pickers won the 2002 Rockygrass Band Competition in Lyons, CO. Less than a year after that, Hit & Run took first place at the 2003 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest, making them the first and only band to win both contests. According to Denverâ€™s Westword newspaper, â€œSomethingâ€™s got to be up when one bluegrass band suddenly surpasses all the others. Here in Colorado, that band is Hit & Run.â€ Hit & Run went on to take first place at the 2005 SPBGMA International Band Championships in Nashville, TNâ€”a rare feat for a first-time competitor.
â€œHit & Run is far and away the most exciting up-and-coming bluegrass act in Colorado right now,â€ shares Eric Pirritt, Colorado talent buyer for Boulderâ€™s Fox Theatre. â€œThey have been able to harness a style of bluegrass that has both young kids and older folks lining up in the streets for their show, each and every time they play.â€ Hit & Runâ€™s appeal may be their youthful energy combined with polished vocals, hot picking, and their contemporary sound, inspired by the hardcore grooves of Alison Krauss & Union Station, Blue Highway, and Lonesome River Band, among other favorites. Hit & Run tastefully interprets standard bluegrass and traditional tunes, and they skillfully craft original tunes; their music is â€œhandspun yet motor-driven, a well-oiled machine of sound produced by men and women with flying fingers and high, lonesome voices.â€ (Westword)
You may have met these young pickers around campfires at festivals across the country. Rebecca Hoggan (29) has received national attention in Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, Bluegrass Unlimited, and Bluegrass Now for her flatpicking guitar and vocal accomplishments, which are exhibited on her debut solo release, "Born in East Virginia." 25-year-old John Frazierâ€™s mandolin virtuosity has garnered him recognition as one of Coloradoâ€™s premier mandolinists; he earned a full merit scholarship to the 2004 Mandolin Symposium. His "classic" sounding original songs are an integral part of Hit & Runâ€™s repertoire. Banjo player Lorenzo Gangi (26) brings his rock-solid timing to the band, as well as his solo release â€œFistful of Lonesome.â€ Dobro virtuoso/vocalist David Richey (28) spent years in the bluegrass program at Eastern Tennessee State University, and was a founding member of the Johnson City-based band, the Everybodyfields. Steve Roy (27) has played bass since he was ten years old in New Hampshire, and heâ€™s made a name for himself in both jazz and bluegrass circles nation-wide with his off-the-hook solos and over-the-top vocals.
Two-time Grammy winner Gene Libbea joined the band as bass-player/singer from January to June 2003, while Erin Coats took a leave of absence. His 13-year tenure with the Nashville Bluegrass Band, as well as his 30-plus years as a professional musician, brought priceless ideas and input to Hit & Run Bluegrass during that time. Says Libbea: â€œThis band has immense talent. They are destined to go far.â€
Hit & Run was invited to record their debut album, â€œBeauty Fades,â€ at Doobie Shea Studios in Boones Mill, Virgnia. Tim Austin, founder of the Lonesome River Band and Doobie Shea Records, produced and engineered the project in January 2004.. Their 2005 sophomore release, â€œWithout Maps or Charts,â€ was co-produced by Rebel Recording Artists Kenny & Amanda Smith in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has garnered interest from several national bluegrass record labels.
â€œIt is easy to see why Hit & Run is moving up so quicklyâ€”their music is powerful and their professionalism is amazing for such a young band,â€ comments George Gertz, producer of the North Fork Valley Bluegrass Festival. Hit & Run is quickly gaining the respect of promoters, fans, musicians, and media across the country. With an increasingly heavy national touring schedule, this hard drivin' bluegrass band plans to share as much energy and enthusiasm as possible in the years to come.