Bluegrass began as the music of the people, and Boulder Creek’s Sugar by the Pound is doing its best to keep it that way.
The all-female band—Ali Steele on banjo, Erin Valdivia on guitar, Cristy Aloysi on guitar and mandolin, and Sarah Farrell Mackessy on bass, with all four sharing vocals—bring a contagious, foot-stomping excitement to their shows, and are known to have fans dancing to and even singing along with the classic songs they cover. But their interaction with fans doesn’t stop there; they want to blur the line between artist and audience.
“We love it when the kids come up,” Steele says with a laugh. “We’ll say, ‘You wanna strum?’ And their mothers will be like, ‘No, no, don’t touch that,’ but we’ll say, ‘Why not? You can strum our instruments.’ We like to perform in a horseshoe formation so we can interact with each other and the crowd. That way it isn’t, ‘We’re performing and you’re listening.’”
Forming just six months ago, they’ve already played some unusual shows, including one at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View.
“I have a really good girlfriend who actually works there,” says Steele. “There’s this hip place there that everybody goes to called the Coffee Lab. They normally have jazz and that sort of thing there, but we went in … and were pretty well-received.”
The band has no plans to record at the moment, but judging from the reaction they’ve gotten so far, they probably should.
“So many people want an all-girl band,” says Steele, “and the response has been crazy, so I guess that really was what this town needed!”
INFO: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17. Don Quixote’s, 6275 Highway 9, Felton. $8. 603-2294.