By Emerald Butler
The Telluride Festival band competition has become a great catalyst for aspiring Bluegrass and Roots music bands such as The Dixie Chicks and String Fever among many others. The latest band added to this iconic list is the Bowregard Bluegrass Band. Most often noticed for their hard-driving bluegrass and banjo-driven originals, the band is comprised of Max Kabat on guitar, James Armington on banjo, Colleen Heine on fiddle, Justin Konrad on dobro, and Zachary Smith on bass.
“We went in it just to enjoy the whole thing,” Max shared. “Sure, it’s a competition, but it’s a very familiar feel. We made friends with every band that was in the competition. We really feel like participating in the whole thing is a wonderful experience.” Max continued to share that the band was thrilled when they made the preliminaries. Before the competition, the band had been working with Grammy and IBMA award-winning dobro player Sally Van Meter. “She coached us before we went in for the competition on some things that we could tune-up.” That coaching certainly paid off when the band ended up winning the whole competition. “It’s been like a dream come true,” Max expressed. “The fact that they have the competition is cool because it gives bands who are serious about getting out there the opportunity to do so. Bands like the Dixie Chicks who have won the Telluride Bluegrass Competition. These bands have gone on to have really big careers, and I think it is because they are involved in this cool community that supports the artists that have the drive to get after it.”
That community is what seems to be part of the driving force bringing more people to the area.
“Colorado is a unique scene because we obviously have beautiful landscapes here. Beautiful mountains and a lot of stuff like that are really attractive and that kind of channels some of the origins of bluegrass music that comes from the mountains of Appalachia. I’ve always felt a calling to be outside and in nature. Music is a part of nature and we kind of embrace that,” Max said. “There’s a lot of support here. And there are a lot of bands who see it as a good place to be to try to make it or succeed. We are really lucky because we have things here like Planet Bluegrass. They put on the Telluride Bluegrass and Rocky grass and they sponsor a lot of events that kind of promote the bluegrass ideology and just bluegrass music in general. They give a lot of opportunities to bands who are up and coming in the area which is really cool.”
Thanks to their competition win, Bowregard will be playing the main stage at this year’s Telluride Festival. The band has also announced that they are finishing recording their debut album. Bowregard has been recording with producer Nick Forster, a founding member of Hot Rize, at Forster’s eTown studio. They plan on releasing the album in late spring.