Living High on the Hog at Vail’s Half Moon |

Living High on the Hog at Vail’s Half Moon

Staff Reports

Far from the fur coats and high prices of Bridge Street, there’s a bar that plays great live music and entertains the locals nightly, a place where you can live High on the Hog for just five bucks.High on the Hog, a bluegrass band out of Boulder, plays the Half Moon Saloon in West Vail Saturday, Jan. 25. This high-energy string band focuses on “traditional American fiddle tunes and other early, rural country music predating the onset of bluegrass in the 1940s.”For anyone looking for a change of pace, the Half Moon is the place to be that night, with a mere $5 cover charge and free parking.Ryan Spearman, fiddle player for High on the Hog, says their music attracts “a diverse and universal crowd.” By combining their high-energy sound with some mythological ballads, the band has been able to reach a broad group of listeners. Most of the music is traditional folk that has been passed down for 200 years.Singing around one microphone, the band combines vocals with the sounds of the banjo, guitar, spoons, fiddle, mandolin and the upright base.The members of High on the Hog, Curt Alsobrook, Angie Hansleben, Spearman and Dan Rose, started out playing rock but moved to the bluegrass genre through the inspiration of Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones.Asked why he made the switch to folk or bluegrass, Spearman explains, “honestly the music itself tends to touch on something mythological.”Originally Spearman played the electric guitar, but found folk through Dylan and his recordings of what Spearman calls “a non-commercial kind of music.” From there Spearman relates that High on the Hog has already reached a kind of success, because the members of the band have been able to play the music they enjoy and hopefully some day be able “to quit our day jobs and play music full-time.” Spearman’s caveat is that “there may be a lot of Ramen involved.”Justin Hurley, who books the entertainment at the Half Moon, found this band when they were playing at a bluegrass festival near Estes Park called Rocky Grass. He recalls that at that festival High on the Hog was “definitely the crowd favorite.”The band’s formation was relatively recent (July of 2001), but all of the members had played together at some level in the past.The sound of the fiddle makes for a lively night, and within their performance it is not unexpected to find some “dancing, goofing, whooping, hollering and the occasional under-the-leg-fiddle.”The band has been performing all over Colorado, and some places in Kansas, Illinois and Missouri. Beginning in July High on the Hog is going on tour of the West Coast, so if you can make it to West Vail on Jan. 25, dress casual and be ready to dance.High on the Hog has never before performed in Vail and should be a welcome addition to Vail’s night-life. If you want to see an up and coming band that has a love of music and some “foot-stomping tunes,” come to the Half Moon Saturday night, Jan. 25. Call 476-4314 for more information.Molly Shea

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