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Funky, bluesy newgrass collective opens State Bridge

Wren Wertin

It’s been open for a couple of weeks now, but today marks the first live music to be had. Boulder-based Acoustic Semi inducts the 2002 music season by the river, beginning promptly at 4:20.

They play a mix of semi-acoustic newgrass, funk, blues, soul and folk. According to them, they provide funkin’ rhythm for the soul and harmony for the head.

“The rhythm makes you able to feel the groove and begin to dance,” said Pete Kartsounes (acoustic and electric guitars, vocals, harmonica, mandolin). “A lot of bands don’t have the kind of harmony we do. Having a couple of lead singers makes it more fun to listen to.”



Kartsounes and Brendan MacNaughton (acoustic, rhythm guitars) met each other years ago at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Kartsounes lived in Pagosa Springs, and MacNaughton in Temp, Ariz. After an all-night jam session around the campfire, they knew they’d found a new musical mate, temporary though it seemed.

They met up later in Boulder, where they’d both moved. Hence, Acoustic Semi was born.



“It’s the beginning of the season for us,” said MacNaughton. “Things are going swimmingly for us. We just played with Single Malt Band to a sold-out show at the Boulder Theater.”

They also opened for Merl Saunders in Breckenridge. A new live album is out, taken from two shows: the Fox Theater in Boulder and the Soiled Dove in Denver.

Acoustic Semi is also Tim Hogan (electric bass), Ryan Sapp (drum set) and The Reverend James Thomas (keys). The Reverend used to be only an occasional visitor to the band, but they’ve slowly weaned him off his day job. He’s full-time these days, just in time for the next tour.



“We’re heading down to the Arizona, New Mexico area later this month,” said MacNaughton. “Then we’re off to Seattle for our first northwest appearances, getting up into Idaho, Montana.”

They’re taking with them a whole slew of new material, having spent the majority of the winter writing.

MacNaughton’s favorite new song is called “Take the Fall,” a part two to “Crescent Moon.”

“Being in the relationship that I’ve been in, and living a healthy life as opposed to the way I used to live, the song is about having closure to that other life and starting this new one,” said MacNaughton.

Two weeks ago he learned he’s going to be a father, putting the finishing touches on a completely different life.

Acoustic Semi plays today at State Bridge Lodge at 4:20 p.m.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.


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