Flatt Cheddar: Happy Music for Happy People

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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Flatt Cheddar is a fun-loving bluegrass band united by a love of music and an incorrigible sense of humor. In the past year and a half, they have exploded in the Montana music scene and frequently play shows around southwest Montana. It's easy and worthwhile to watch the band play live; their variety of fast-paced grass and slower bluesy tunes keeps the crowd happily dancing while captivating listeners from every walk of life.

The band has six members: two current MSU students, three graduates and one full-time musician. Bassist Scott Stebbins also plays in the Bridger Creek Boys and the Bozeman Symphony. Guitar picker Gordon Sevee has a Horticulture degree, but is best known for winning the flat-picking contest at the 2011 Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival. Nash Reilly plays the dobro, or the “squareneck resonator guitar,” and is majoring in Electrical Engineering. He also has an impressively deep and resonating singing voice that would sound natural coming from an accomplished 50-year-old. Sean Raming plays the mandolin and studies Liberal Arts on the side, while Andrew Schauer plays the banjo and has a Snow Science degree. The band is rounded out by Emilie Phelps on the fiddle, who has a B.A. in sociology and works at Emily Dickinson Elementary.

Flatt Cheddar’s music can be described as any kind of “grass” with a blues influence, and the musicians’ shared love of playing music makes their shows a guaranteed good time. Most importantly, said Sevee, "We enjoy playing for people; we enjoy when people come to watch, because it makes us feel good."

Raming, Reilly, Sevee and Schauer began playing music together at open bluegrass jams at the Leaf & Bean, where they were “four younger people in a mixture of a lot of older people, and having a lot of fun with it” so then they decided “'let's hang out and do this on Friday nights,’" said Raming. So, Flatt Cheddar was born. The band’s lineup shifted in its first year, but now it seems to be stable. Phelps joined the band last spring and everything clicked into place. “One of my big priorities in playing music is the people that I'm playing with and whether or not I enjoy it,” she said. “These guys are enjoyable. It's a miracle to have six people in a band that don't want to kill each other."

The band’s next show is Friday, Jan. 27, at the Filling Station, when they will open for one of their biggest influences and idols, the Infamous Stringdusters. If you’re under 21, they are playing at Showdown Ski Area on Feb. 11 and Norris Hot Springs on Feb. 12. And if you like to plan ahead, they are playing at the Tumbleweed Cafe in Gardiner on April 20.

To keep up with the band’s upcoming shows and listen to some of their music, visit reverbnation.com/flattcheddar or find them on Facebook.

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