Practice your heel-stomping and happy hollering, the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown is coming to town April 20-22. The main stages will be crowded with national acts like The Becky Buller Band, Mile Twelve, The Molly Tuttle Band and The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys. Add to that an abundance of open jams, workshops and swell old-time tunesters from Durango, like the ruckus-raising Six Dollar String Band.
When not playing an eclectic mix of albums as DJ Bad Goat, Stephen Sellers slaps standup bass for Six Dollar String Band. Sellers sees his role as being a conduit for audience connectivity.
“The music isn’t about me,” Sellers said. “It’s not about the band … What’s most important is your body moving, if that is how you enjoy music, and the person that might be across from you that you’re smiling at, that you’re moving with.”
There’s a historical and emotional depth to the songs played at fests like the Meltdown. For Sellers, “There is a weightiness there, but I also like to think of it as a conversation. As much as we love and try to honor old-time music, it is also about honoring the spirit of the music and that means bringing our own diverse backgrounds and musical interests to the table… It’s tricky. It’s finding a way to step with the music instead of on it.”
If you’ve never been to a Meltdown, get ready to meet and chat up a wide swath of folks.
“The function of the music,” Sellers said, “is to facilitate a gathering in the community that needs to be The Community, not a certain section or slice of it … Anyone is welcome to come and dance. You don’t have to know about the music. You don’t have to over-intellectualize it. It’s music for people to get together because in life there is so much suffering and pain, for all of us in different ways, small stresses and big ones – so let’s set aside some time to relax and be in this moment.”
The Meltdown and roots music scene is an amiable space.
“One of the things I find most exciting about old-time music is its inclusivity,” Sellers said. “We just played a dance and the caller, Wendy Graham, was quick to say that it doesn’t matter if it’s two guys dancing together or two girls or whoever. Everyone is welcome.”
No matter who you’re two-stepping with, “People can expect to definitely feel the tingles in their skin, hands, bodies,” Sellers said. “There’s something special about the austere and stripped-down nature of old-time and bluegrass instrumentation.”
In addition to Six Dollar String Band playing at the Bluegrass Meltdown, you can catch a side-project album-release party by members Tony Holmquist (fiddle) and Brendan Shafer (banjo) for “Old-Time and Classic Fringe Sessions, Volume 1” at Eno on Friday night at the Meltdown.