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Moving forward with roots

Wren Wertin
Special to the DailyBrad Murphey, Paul Waitinas and Rich Zimmerman are slippin' it every Tuesday night in Edwards.
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Slipstream is a pearl among oysters. The progressive bluegrass trio has returned to their Tuesday night gig at Cranberry Isles Seafood Company in Edwards. The music begins at 9 p.m.

The room exudes a feeling of burnished warmth, with the classic hardwood floor, glossy tables and fully stocked bar framed with enormous logs. The music is warm, too, with Rich Zimmerman’s elusive finger work on the mandolin, Brad “Murph” Murphey’s charismatic guitar and Paul Waitinas’ driving bass easy in his hands.

“Never does Slipstream musically overcompensate in trying to achieve the sound of a larger ensemble,” said Noam Pikelny, banjoist for Leftover Salmon. “They do not overplay, instead allowing the music to breathe.”



Pikelny will be joining the trio Nov. 30 at the Mountain Sun Brewery in Boulder.

“Slipstream plays bluegrass with creativity, drive and clarity – just the way I want to hear it,” said Ross Martin, an in-demand session musician and guitarist for the Tony Furtado Band.



Zimmerman was an Eagle resident until recently. After making the leap of faith into music land and quitting his day job, he moved to Boulder. Waitinas will be following suit this month, leaving Summit County behind. But with Tuesday nights at Cranberry Isles, and the occasional other booking, they’ll be around a fair bit.

Boulder has been fun for them, as the roots music scene is thriving.

Zimmerman and Murphey met at Rockygrass five years ago.



“Really, it started with the energy, the chemistry that Murph and I knew we’d had for a long time,” said Zimmerman about Slipstream. “With Paul, he’d been playing bass with these bands we were in, so we knew we had a solid core. We really are doing great.”

Though all three of them were in multiple projects for years, they’ve made Slipstream their one and only. They’re already looking forward to a summer of festivals, where they have the advantage of sounding completely different than most of the bluegrass ensembles. They’re a trio, and they sound like a trio.

“Because it’s a trio and not a five-piece band, you can hear some of the subtleties that we’re doing, not just the bombardment of sound,” said Waitinas. “It lets us do some more unusual things that a bigger band can’t do.”

At festivals, they’ll suck in the crowd with a classic bluegrass song, and then they’ll go on to perform their original music, usually instrumentals. At Cranberry Isles, they also play both traditional songs and originals.

Next February, they’re heading to Idaho, to record their first album at Hen House Studios. In preparation, they’ve been in a frenzy of pushing the music as far as it will go.

“We’re really excited about that,” enthused Zimmerman. “We’re going to have some amazing stuff.”

Those who visit them at Cranberry Isles will see they already do.

There’s no cover Tuesdays. This writer recommends the rum punch while listening to Slipstream.

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


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