Bearfoot brings Alaskan Blue-grass to Young Auditorium

Looking for a musical experience that will change your world? At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Bearfoot, an acoustic band rooted in traditional American music, will perform at the Young Auditorium.

Bearfoot is a modern-day string band often described as folk, bluegrass or Americana. It features two fiddles, a mandolin, guitar, upright bass and strong vocal harmonies.

Just two years after forming, the band earned the Telluride Bluegrass Band Champions award, which is one of the most prestigious awards for folk and bluegrass music. Previous award winners include Nickel Creek and the Dixie Chicks.

After meeting as counselors at a bluegrass camp for kids, the original members of Bearfoot formed the band 11 years ago. Two current members from the original band, Angela Oudean and Jason Norris, are joined by newer members Nora Jean Struthers, PJ George and Todd Grebe.

Oudean, who plays the fiddle and sings, said she thinks there are many things besides the band’s unique genre that make Bearfoot different from other musical groups.

“We play a lot of our own music, so you get to hear original songs you won’t hear anywhere else,” Oudean said. “We also have two girls and three guys, so we’re not a typical set with a female singer backed up by an all-guy band. We do a lot of fast instrumental improvisation and play off each other, so there’s always a wide range of cool stuff going on.”

Bearfoot has been touring for the last three years, and over that time, band members have come to recognize some of the challenges and rewards of performing for a live audience.

“My favorite thing about performing live is interacting with the audience,” Oudean said. “They’re as entertaining to us as we hope we are to them. If you get a good audience, it feels like you’re just hanging out with a bunch of really good friends.”

However, according to Oudean, live audiences can also cause big challenges.

“It is much harder to connect with [the audience],” she said. “It’s the most fun to play in a small setting where you’re right next to the people you’re playing for.”

Bearfoot has released four full-length albums and is in the process of recording music for a fifth. While most bands go through a lengthy songwriting process, that isn’t always the case with Bearfoot.

“My favorite song to perform right now is probably one that we wrote in our van on tour a few weeks ago,” Oudean said. “It was cool because we wrote it together while we were between locations, and we recorded it about a week ago. We’ll be playing it on our next tour.”

Overall, Bearfoot only wants one thing: for their audiences to have a good time.

“I hope people leave our shows having heard a song they can relate to,” Oudean said. “I always hope they had a good time,”

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