This weekend, for the 23rd year, Durango will transform into a bluegrass paradise in the form of the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown.
Among the bands – both local and national – scheduled to perform, is the North Carolina-based Town Mountain.
Phil Barker, mandolin player for Town Mountain, talked to me about what we can expect from the guys this year, how Durango and Asheville are pretty similar and why smaller, more intimate music festivals are so important.
Q: Tell me a little about the band.
A: We’re based in Asheville, North Carolina. It’s not where most of us are from; we all kind of moved here because of the music scene that’s grown up here. We all met here in town at various pickin’ parties and whatnot and went out on the road and started making music together and it’s just gone from there.
Q: You guys released your fifth studio album last year … how long have you been together?
A: I’m going on 10 years with the band, and I think they’ve been around maybe a couple of years before that, but maybe things got kicked into gear about 10 years ago I would say.
Q: So what are you going to bring to the Meltdown?
A: This will actually be our third (time), I believe. We’ll be bringing the same thing we always bring, which is a high-energy bluegrass and honky-tonk show. That’s kind of a big thing about our band, we like playing with a lot of energy and we like to feed off the energy of the crowd – we love a crowd that likes to get up and dance. We just like to have a good time playing music.
Q: Why do you think these festivals are important? Especially the smaller, more intimate ones?
A: Durango’s a great festival because it’s so intimate and we get to interact with all the people in the town. We’ve got a lot of good friends there now because we’ve been playing Durango a lot over the course of our band’s history, and so we have a bunch of friends we always look forward to hanging out with. They know us, and it’s just like we pick up where we left off the last time we were in town. It’s always fun to play the smaller festivals like this for that reason, because you get to trade these relationships with different folks in town.
Q: Do you see any similarities between Durango and Asheville?
A: Sure. They’re both super-supportive of the arts community, I’ve definitely noticed that. People are definitely outdoorsy in both towns and everybody likes to have a good time – they definitely like to hang out, which is great
Q: What’s next for you?
A: What’s next for us is a busy spring and summer touring a bunch of different festivals. Then we’re hoping to get back into the studio in the fall to record another record, and so we’ll be developing a lot of our new material this spring and summer, have some new songs for people to hear and see how they go over and just kind of keep rolling.