Orchard Creek Band: Making Their Mark
by Shelby C. Berry
Vibrant and diverse like the rest of Colorado’s bluegrass scene, Orchard Creek Band’s powerhouse ensemble emerged by blending the best of traditional bluegrass and contemporary with other genres for a sound all their own.
This group of committed Colorado musicians—Dave Richardson on banjo, Keith Murdock on dobro, Jan Springer on guitar, Kevin Slick on mandolin, and Roz Weller on bass—found themselves coming together and enjoying local bluegrass jams in Boulder, Colorado.
The Colorado bluegrass jam scene pre-pandemic was the place to be if you are a bluegrass musician.
“Any given night of the week, there would be at least two or three jam sessions happening at local coffee shops or other areas,” said Kevin.
With all band members having roots in musical hotbed cities such as Nashville, the Appalachians, and Pennsylvania, they come together with a wide and varied background of expertise blending traditional and contemporary with gospel, jazz, and original concepts.
Persevering through 2020, which Kevin refers to as the band’s ghost year, they are fired up and ready to see what happens next.
During this “ghost year,” when performing was all but impossible, the members of Orchard Creek Band spent time writing original music. Out of that, something beautiful happened – they released their debut project earlier this year.
Titled Walk in the Woods, this six-track EP includes both original and classic bluegrass music. Jan, Dave, and Keith handled things in the songwriting department, and they shared incredibly personal moments in their lyrics.
Keith’s “Dyin’ Town” is a sad dedication to his wife’s once beautiful, thriving hometown that descended into deserted storefronts and weeds growing through sidewalk cracks.
Much of the Colorado bluegrass scene is different than what you would think of in bluegrass music, with artists bringing a variety of influences from various genres to their sound. Orchard Creek Band is no different – even more so, you’d say.
“We are aware of a lot of different types of music,” said Kevin. “We know a wide range of stuff, and we bring things that make our music much richer. Any music that survives over time will diversify.”
Instead of focusing on the traditional sound of Bill Monroe, the band found inspiration in artists like James Taylor and The Carter Family. It then merged folk, Americana, bluegrass, and country into the distinct sound of Orchard Creek.
“Jan’s favorite song of ours is Walk in the Woods, and it has no banjo. That’s almost sacrilegious in bluegrass music,” said Kevin. “She uses two different capos for the sound and vibe, and it’s the same sound that comes from artists like James Taylor or John Denver. I love that people are more open to that sort of thing. We’re bringing our own sort of ideas there.”
As things in the music industry begin opening back up, the members of Orchard Creek Band are excited to get back to performing live for the people that enjoy it most, both locally and across the country.
While Orchard Creek Band’s sound may stray a bit from traditional bluegrass, the way they perform doesn’t. Standing in a semi-circle facing one another around one microphone, these musicians strip down the bells and whistles to give their fans the performances they love.
“It’s a very bluegrass vibe. It made us listen better and listen to what the guy next to you is doing. You’re playing off that. Dave and I engage in a fair amount of mischief this way,” laughed Kevin.
Orchard Creek Band plans to continue songwriting and push for originality by becoming more involved in the songwriting portion of IBMA so they will be known for more than music.
“I played rock music full time in the ’90s, and now I’m the only one in our band still working. I see this band making its mark in a kinder, gentler way,” said Kevin.