Defining Colorado Bluegrass
Rapidgrass is a homegrown, Colorado Front Range bluegrass band that crafts songs and lyrics in celebration of mountains and whitewater rapids. The seeds for Rapidgrass were sown when Colorado native, Mark Morris (guitar and vocals) and Coleman Smith (violin, mandolin and vocals) were hired straight out of music school to play for the same band in New York. After some time, both realized they weren’t excited about the direction the group was heading and they decided to start a new band on their own. When Mark moved back to Colorado, he met Alex Johnstone (mandolin, fiddle, and vocals) who joined the group, as well as Carl Minorkey (upright bass, tenor, banjo, and vocals), and Rapidgrass became what it is today.
The incredible Colorado outdoors is one of the greatest inspirations for Rapidgrass’s music. All the band members are dedicated to being outside as much as possible, and that enthusiasm is tangible in the music they make. Mark Morris fell in love with skiing at age ten when he went on a heli-ski trip with his family to Alaska, and he now skis professionally for Icelantic, Flylow, Discrete and Scarpa. Alex Johnstone first started playing music professionally while ski-bumming in Crested Butte, and he fly fishes as much as possible. Carl Minorkey is a Certified Arborist, and he dedicates much of his free time to caring for Colorado’s urban forest. With all these passions combined, it’s no surprise that a passion for nature is the impetus behind so much of Rapidgrass’s music. The group typically plays venues situated at the base of ski resorts or nestled among small mountain towns – locations that make balancing professional music careers with outdoor passions totally feasible.
In addition to a full schedule of live shows, Rapidgrass will be hosting their eighth annual Rapidgrass Music Festival this June 23-25 in Idaho Springs, CO. Morris and his sister Sarah founded the festival soon after he left his previous band in New York to provide a musical outlet for the Clear Creek County community.
Morris explains, “When you first start off as a band, no one wants to hire you because nobody knows you! I grew up really close to Idaho Springs, and a lot of people I grew up with wanted to hear us play. The only place big enough in Idaho Springs for a good crowd is the baseball fields, so we had two or three bands play on the fields the first year. The next year we made it a little bigger. Eventually, we were getting nationally recognized bands headlining at the festival.”
The Rapidgrass Music Festival has since been nominated for the Wright Award in Denver for entrepreneurship, presented by Governor Hickenlooper. The band plans on releasing its third album, “Happy Trails,” produced by Billy Cardine at this year’s festival.