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Scratchdog String Band: From Crooning to Foot-Stomping

Scratchdog String Band

The name “Scratchdog String Band,” while fairly difficult to say three times really fast, nonetheless has a definitely euphonious sound to it–conjuring up rustic images of front porches, warm breezes and, well…a dog scratching. Slowly.

You would be partly right. The banner on their webpage promises “Authentic Music. Artistry.” But then comes “Wildly Good Times!” and the slow rocking on the front porch idea goes right out the window. Dancing is more like it, and the slow dog had best find a different spot somewhere away from stomping feet.

The Oregon-based trio also promises that their show will kick grass. They’re on tour for their new–and first–full-length album, a follow-up to their debut EP “Introducing Scratchdog String Band.” In fact, their new album showcases lots of original music as well as the band’s sense of humor: It’s titled “Three Times Fast.”

As bands go, Scratchdog is still a toddler–barely 18 months old, though the group (composed of fiddler/vocalist James Rossi, bass/vocalist  Kimbo Kumada, and Andrew DeRossett doing triple duty on vocals, banjo and guitar) already has 150 shows under its belt. And the three members’ experience ranges wide and far, before that. Their musical adventures have taken them individually from New Orleans to New England, from Austin to the West Coast, as well as style-journeys through Reggae, Punk Rock, Blues, Classical, and Celtic.

Though their official niche is the catch-all Americana/Bluegrass, critics have credited them with “fierce boot-stompers to rolling country ballads, as well as genre-benders in between.” There’s one number in which they take the genre-bending especially seriously. Titled “The Scratchdog Shuffle,” it incorporates the three adept musicians switching instruments in various combinations mid-song while their harmonious vocals don’t miss a beat.

Member James Rossi describes their Bluegrass connection as having “far more thump and far less twang than classic Bluegrass,” without overlooking the occasional crooning, high-lonesome vocals that legendary musicians such as The Stanley Brothers, The Delmore Brothers, and Bill Monroe made famous.

As Tahoe Weekly’s music critic Jenn Sheridan sums it up, “There are some who are born with an innate passion to create, a drive to share that passion with the world and the knowledge that it takes years of hard work and determination to make the dream a reality. The members of Scratchdog String Band have set out not only to realize their own dreams, but to inspire others to chase their passions, too.”

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