When you hear that the Boulder Acoustic Society is coming to this year's Beartrap Summer Festival, you might assume that they'll be playing classical music. Which is true, if your idea of classical includes vintage clothing, a tin whistle, a washboard, and beat-boxing.

So how did the band get its genteel name?

Their explanation is a simple one: “We wanted the group to seem bigger than it was. When people hear the name, it sounds large and important. Actually there are just four members in the band, but there are thousands in the 'Society.'”

Admittedly, the members all have formal music training. But as the Boulder Weekly remarks, “they build on it rather than rely on it.”

Whether the BAS is covering Steve Earle's “Oxycontin Blues” or premiering a brand-new original, you can't mistake them for any other contemporary touring group. One reviewer has dubbed them “klezmerpunkamericana”:

“Their set swings from gorgeous bluegrass waltzes to raving klezmerpunk fusions to piano rockers, all of it undercut by their spectacular rhythm section--drummer Scott Aller and upright bassist Neil McCormick, who may just be the best rhythm section working in Americana today. Aller in particular is a monster behind the kit, fierce and driving and subtle, and it’s always a pleasure to watch him work.”

Freshly rested from a grueling but triumphant three-week U.S. tour, the Society four albums to their credit, with cuts whose variety range from “Burn the Pity of Our Past” to “Frog Pajama Waltz.” Among the plaudits for the CD “Punchline” are: “Old school, but never old, Boulder Acoustic Society is the new wave of American roots music. It's what happens when four songwriters get together to mash up blues, folk, gospel, indie and world music to soothe their musical curiosity.”

As if that weren't enough, the CD packaging for “Punchline” is itself a work of art. When the case is not providing protection for the CD surface, it incidentally folds into a retro, pop-up 3-D stereoscope, which can be used to view slides of the band (included).


Of their most recent work, the EP “Champions of Disaster,” reviewer Cory O'Brien describes it as:  “...a grounded, beautiful morsel of indie-folk that finds Boulder Acoustic Society honing in on a sound and then exploring the possibilities within that sound’s framework. There is still room for experimentation, such as the murky organ jam on the title track, but the strength of the EP can be found in the confessional lyrics of 'Where Have the Good Ones Gone' or the levee-breaking final chorus on the folk rock ear-worm 'How Many Times a Day.'”

--Dale Short, carrolldaleshort.com

Boulder Acoustic Society - "Oxycontin Blues":