2018 Telluride Bluegrass Band Contest Winners
2018 IBMA Momentum Nominee
Chris Weist, Craig Patterson, Chris Zink, Aaron McCloskey, Taylor Shuck
Something downright mystical is happening on Colorado’s Front Range. The very roots of traditional acoustic music seem to sprout from the dirt, shaking their dust into the winds of change, to be breathed in and become the soul of musicians who craft their songs here.
Such is the music of Wood Belly, winners of the Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition (2018). Wood Belly is the musical collective of Chris Weist (mandolin), Craig Patterson (guitar), Chris Zink (dobro), Aaron McCloskey (banjo) and Taylor Shuck (bass). A Wood Belly song has its own lyrical persona and masterful arrangement; rooted in bluegrass tradition and planted solidly in contemporary innovation.
Weist, Patterson and Zink met at the Rockygrass Festival in 2015, and within a year, teamed up with McCloskey and Shuck. The music fell into place immediately. The instrumentation and rhythmic drive of the band is like a tree trunk centered in bluegrass with branches that uninhibitedly reach out in many directions. There is a powerful focus on songwriting, with influences from multiple genres. Wood Belly, like other bands in the Newgrass or Grassicana realm, is rooted in tradition but refuses to be confined. Their sound is authentic, passionate and always entertaining.
Chris Weist and Craig Patterson are prolific songwriters, but every member of the band contributes. Aaron McCloskey and Chris Zink are known for intricate instrumentals, and Taylor Shuck has written for the group as well. The band takes a collaborative approach to sculpting a song once the basic structure is in place, refining and editing until a seamless arrangement reveals itself.
Whether it’s a hard driving bluegrass song, a multi-layered instrumental, a pop-oriented hook-laden tune, or a poetic waltz— each song has something to say. There’s an identity, a message in every song, delivered in a characteristic Wood Belly style that is warm and true, occasionally haunting and the next moment light and uplifting. The timbre of voice and strings is solid, confident, honest and playful. Every member sings and vocals are a significant part of the Wood Belly sound.
Since its formation, the band has played an ever-expanding list of great venues including the Mishawaka Amphitheater, the Fox Theater (Boulder), Wildflower Pavilion (Planet Bluegrass), and Cervantes’ (Denver). Their festival resume includes the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Rapidgrass, the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown, the Keystone Bluegrass and Beer Festival, The Wyoming State Bluegrass and BBQ festival, Snowygrass, Grapes and Grass, Winter WonderGrass, Northwest String Summit, Palisade Folk and Bluegrass, and more.
Wood Belly’s debut album, Solid Ground, was co-produced by WB and Aaron Youngberg of Swingfingers Studio and released in early 2018. The collection demonstrates the group’s versatility, seamless harmonies and dynamic instrumentation.
Winning the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition in 2018 has opened doors and created opportunities. The fest is part of the fiber of Wood Belly’s fabric, making the win even sweeter. Each member has a story to tell about attending the festival throughout the years and how it influenced music and inspired songwriting.
A nominee in the 2018 IBMA Momentum Awards, Wood Belly has shared bills with Del McCoury Band, Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle, Jeff Austin Band, Front Country, Wood & Wire, Trout Steak Revival, Steel Wheels, and many more.
The group continues to hone its writing skills with songs that are heartfelt and spirited, crafted with passion, and always entertaining, Wood Belly is currently recording at Swingfingers Studio with producer Sally Van Meter and engineer Aaron Youngberg. A 13-song project is set for release in late summer of 2019.
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