If you’re not already a fan of Colorado bluegrass band Meadow Mountain, you soon will be. They are front and center on the national bluegrass music scene with the release of their second album coming this summer. And the band is no stranger to the Denver Folklore Center. Members stop by occasionally, trying out new instruments and performing (see our YouTube channel).
Members of Meadow Mountain include Summers Baker (guitar), Jack Dunlevie (mandolin), Sam Armstrong-Zickefoose (banjo), Ian Parker (fiddle) and Wilson Luallen (bass). Summers remembers the band began “as a bunch of friends getting together to play for tips at the Vail Farmers Market and connected over a love of the genre and a desire to improve as musicians. When we started, we only knew a couple of fiddle tunes.”
From Electric to Acoustic
Summers started playing guitar around age 14. “At first, I was really into the electric guitar, but bands like Dave Matthews Band, Dispatch and Yonder Mountain String Band drew me towards acoustic music.” He hasn’t touched the electric guitar since age 16 and is mostly self-taught when it comes to bluegrass and folk music.
At 19 years old, Summers made a commitment to “a life of music and got to work”. Meadow Mountain is his main project and he’s been working on that music for the past seven years, focusing on “songwriting, singing and arrangement”.
His Dream Guitar Found Him
When he’s not playing music, Summers works at Steam Espresso Bar (down the street from the Folklore Center). “Years ago, I started stopping into the Folklore Center during work breaks to play their guitars. The staff there has always been incredibly welcoming to me, and I have learned a great deal about guitars from them. My usual visits involve playing a few of their vintage guitars, learning about the guitars' history and dreaming of the day when I win the lottery and return to buy out their entire wall of nice guitars.”
As fate would have it, Summers bought his dream guitar from the Folklore Center in 2020 - a Bourgeois D-DB signature (see it in the photos). The guitar made its gigging debut on stage at Red Rocks and “it feels right that the guitar found me by way of the Folklore Center”.
Commitment and a Little Luck
Meadow Mountain “has always been fueled by the desire to improve”. When they first began playing together, the four original members of the band “had little to no experience playing bluegrass…and we used the band as space to practice, study, critique and support each other as we all worked on the music individually”.
Although Meadow Mountain continues to grow in popularity, they realize it’s not just because of luck. Their commitment to be better musicians, “along with an immense amount of privilege and community support, has brought us to where we are now. In the last few years, we have played on the main stage of RockyGrass, Telluride Bluegrass, FreshGrass and most recently at Red Rocks, where we opened for Leftover Salmon”.