Four years ago, bluegrass virtuosos Travis Book and Anders Beck were the regular Monday night performers at the Diamond Belle Saloon. They performed as a duo, with Book on guitar and Beck on dobro.
The two also played in numerous bands in town, including the award-winning Broke Mountain. Then bigger gigs called, inviting Book to Nashville to play bass with The Infamous Stringdusters, and Beck to Michigan to play dobro with Greensky Bluegrass.
The duo will return to Durango on Thursday, this time on the stage at the Henry Strater Theatre.
Both musicians stay busy with their respective bands. Both acts are touring nationally this summer, and The Infamous Stringdusters will be playing next week at the Pagosa Folk and Bluegrass Festival. But for Book, this is an opportunity to try out some new songs with an old friend.
"I've been writing a lot of music in the last couple of years, and it seemed like it was appropriate for me to come out to Colorado and play some music," Book said while on tour with the Stringdusters in Maryland.
"The thought of doing it myself was kind of daunting," he said. "Anders and I used to have the duo, and I miss that guy. So the two of us are going to hang out, drive around in a car, and play some music."
The ability to step away from a full-time band job and do something different is regarded, at least in the bluegrass world, as nothing but good.
"It's a positive thing for our respected bands, once you do 150 days on the road with your band you need some space," Book said. "My band has so many people that write, and there isn't enough room in the repertoire for all the things that come out. Side projects grow out of that and provide a good outlet."
Any tension or nervousness about putting a tour together with someone you haven't played music with in well over a year is nonexistent. The confidence factor in each other is, to say the least, high.
"We've played a lot of music together, and it's been a little while, but I have a lot of faith in Anders' ability to really support a song," Book said. "I'm excited to hear how he navigates a lot of the music that I've made up."
Like any bluegrass show that happens in Durango, it's likely former band mates and friends will join them on stage at one point or another. A bluegrass pick it will be, but for Book, it's all about the song.
"The focus is on the song and the singing," he said. "That puts a lot of pressure on me but I feel like the last few years I've been in Nashville and touring constantly has helped me get my act together.
"I'm excited to come home and do some singing."
Liggett_b@fortlewis.eduBryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.