BILLY PILGRIMS BIOGRAPHY
In Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse Five, a character named Billy Pilgrim reports to be "unstuck in time." He can't help but travel from the present to the past, and then to the future again. The four Northern Colorado musicians who formed a new retro country & bluegrass band named after this literary figure feel the same way about music.
The Billy Pilgrims band features Lyons, Colo., residents Caleb Roberts and David Richey, and Fort Collins, Colo., couple Aaron & Erin Youngberg. Dave sings lead and plays acoustic guitar, Mrs. Erin sings lead and plays upright bass, Mr. Aaron plays banjo and pedal steel, and Caleb plays mandolin and electric guitar.
The Billy Pilgrims return to country music from the 1950s, influenced by Buck Owens, Hank Williams, Ray Price, and Lefty Frizzell, and they also perform vintage bluegrass influenced by the Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Vern Williams, and Flatt & Scruggs. A typical Billy Pilgrims show includes an acoustic, bluegrass set and an electric, classic country set.
This young band has thousands of miles of touring experience under their belts with previous bands, successful homegrown Colorado bluegrass groups that traveled throughout North America (Open Road and Hit & Run). Two members have recorded with premier roots music label Rounder Records (Caleb Roberts has recorded three Open Road CDs with Rounder, and Erin Youngberg plays on the spring 2007 Uncle Earl Rounder release.) Aaron Youngberg has started recording production work and is creating a home studio. All four members of The Billy Pilgrims teach lessons to aspiring bluegrass & country musicians.
The band's first public shows were at the end of 2006, under the name Wagon Train, but the band debuted its new name and two full power-packed sets of both kinds of music at the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society's Altona Grange Bluegrass Hoedown in February 2007. The second show in the new concert series was sold out with standing room only in the back as people crowded in to see the brand new project with musicians they knew well from their previous Colorado bands. Concertgoers of all ages enjoyed the music, and couples danced in the back when The Billy Pilgrims sang romantic songs by Porter Wagoner, the Osborne Brothers, and Buck Owens.
In fine bluegrass and country music tradition, some of those songs are about heartbreak and loss. So it goes. However, just like Vonnegut's character Billy, the band recognizes the good parts of life, sharing songs that celebrate our time here on Earth, like Buck Owens' "Down on the Corner of Love" and Porter Wagoner's "Satisfied Mind."
Erin Youngberg, originally from Jackson, Wyo., grew up playing music with her family, and performed in several bands before and during her time studying wildlife biology in college. After leaving Hit & Run, she has filled in on bass in several bands including the Bluegrass Patriots and the popular all-female old-time band Uncle Earl, with whom she recorded on their spring 2007 Rounder release. She now is finishing up her degree at Colorado State University, she tends bar twice a week at The Swing Station in LaPorte, Colo., where she and her husband, Aaron, can sometimes be found performing in the house band. Erin plays gut strings on her upright bass, and draws praise for tackling a percussive slap style of bass playing that makes dancing irresistible.
Aaron Youngberg, originally from Lincoln, Neb., began seriously playing the banjo when studying anthropology at Colorado State University, and was a founding member of Hit & Run. He couldn't fight an interest in the long sustaining, sweeping and swelling notes of the pedal steel, and before he knew it, he found himself playing double 10 string neck steel guitar with 8 pedals and 5 knee lever combinations. Aaron and his wife, Erin, sometimes play in the house band at the Swing Station in LaPorte, Colo., and Aaron sits in with other country and honkytonk bands in the Fort Collins area. He is building a home recording studio and building his experience in production work.
Caleb Roberts, originally from Columbia, S.C., first learned about show business when he played with the Denver-born alternative country & western band Slim Cessna's Auto Club in 1994 while a student at the University of Colorado. Drawn back to the bluegrass he grew up listening to from his father's record collection, he founded Open Road in 1999 with Bradford Folk. They were recruited by Rounder, and recorded three CDs with the label. Open Road toured heavily for five years, slowing down when Folk retired to open a bar. Caleb Roberts, Eric Thorin and Keith Reed still perform Open Road shows occasionally when they have time away from their other projects. Caleb recently began playing electric guitar and building tube amplifiers in his garage, and he thanks the rest of the Pilgrims profusely that they let him play the electric guitar in addition to the mandolin.
David Richey, originally from Oklahoma, is a musical pilgrim who has found himself drawn to various musical hotbeds from California to New England, to Johnson City, TN, where he studied in the acclaimed bluegrass music program at East Tennessee State University. While in Tennessee he was a founding member of the acoustic trio The Everybodyfields. Colorado fans first got to know Dave when he toured with Hit & Run, filling in on resonator guitar in 2006, and he quickly became known as one of the top dobro players on the Front Range. Music lovers are in for a real treat when they find out that Dave plays acoustic guitar, too, and sings songs, with a deep repertoire of old country songs.
You can listen to the Billy Pilgrims at www.billypilgrims.com.
To book the Billy Pilgrims, contact Pickin’ Productions at firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-260-6493.