Stealin’ Strings and opening eyes in Vail |

Stealin’ Strings and opening eyes in Vail

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
Not just your typical bluegrass band, Stealin' Strings incorporates rock, jazz, funk and other genres into their original material. They play tonight at the Sandbar in West Vail.

Most bands have some war story about how difficult it is to tour and spread the roots of their music beyond their hometown. But Stealin’ Strings, a bluegrass band from Wisconsin, doesn’t seem to have that problem. Since forming in 2002, the band easily developed a fan base, at least according to Ryan Ogburn, mandolin player and vocalist for Stealin’ Strings.

“Everywhere we go, people just seem to welcome us with open arms, especially out here in the Rockies,” Ogburn said. “People accepted us right away … the fans of this particular kind of music are so open minded that they’ll drive all over to see a band they’ve never heard of but someone recommended. So it’s been really easy for us and quite the adventure.”

Maybe that’s because Stealin’ Strings, though labeled a bluegrass band, have much more to offer listeners than just banjo picking.

“Their form of bluegrass is a blend of traditional and progressive; blending American roots, ethnic and rock improv into a juicy, must-see-and-hear experience,” said Dick Dime, talent manager for the Sandbar.

Stealin’ Strings perform at the Sandbar Thursday night and Ogburn promises a high-energy show full of original music and traditional bluegrass covers done in their own style.

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“The key is we always have a good time with each other onstage and that usually spreads throughout the audience,” Ogburn said.

Stealin’ Strings is Ogburn, Rob Shively on guitar and vocals, Rob Buehler on drums and Matt Turner on bass. Ogburn said that due to the diverse musical training and tastes of each individual in the band, they dabble in a bunch of different styles while ultimately staying true to their bluegrass roots.

“We all bring our own influences to the table,” Ogburn said.

Those influences include a heavy dose of rock, psychedelic, old-timey bluegrass, jazz and funk. Ogburn said that despite their bluegrass tag, bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead played a big part in shaping their sound and they often alternate between acoustic and electric playing onstage.

“We seem to get more of a response from playing the acoustic stuff but it also opens people’s eyes when they see us jump back and forth and play both styles efficiently on stage in the same show,” he said.

Their song “Getting Over It All” is a pretty standard toe-tapper but one turn of the dial over to “Richard Greico’s Land of The Undread” reveals a band ready to turn traditional bluegrass on its ear. The song burns through funky basslines, heavy rock drums, sizzling guitar solos and lyrics like “Rats running scared, running into walls/And I’m still awake staring into something that I never meant to see.”

There’s a freshness to Stealin’ Strings music that screams in the face of the genre without disrespecting it.

High Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or

What: Progressive bluegrass band Stealin’ Stings.

When: Thursday night at 10 p.m. with doors opening at 9 p.m.

Where: Sandbar Sports Grill in West Vail.

Cost: $8.

More information: Call 970-476-4314 or visit

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