Music Beat

Washington duo returns to Rainshadow to play high-energy bluegrass

Posted 12/4/19

Nick Dumas and Chris Luquette both grew up as Washington boys — Dumas in Brier, Luquette in Renton — and even before they’d moved to Tennessee and New York, respectively, they …

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Music Beat

Washington duo returns to Rainshadow to play high-energy bluegrass

Posted

Nick Dumas and Chris Luquette both grew up as Washington boys — Dumas in Brier, Luquette in Renton — and even before they’d moved to Tennessee and New York, respectively, they credited their old home state with acquainting them both with an assortment of musical styles, from Brazilian jazz to bluegrass, to which they’ll be treating audiences at the Rainshadow Recording Studio Dec. 14.

Dumas was introduced to bluegrass by his dobro-playing grandfather, whose rehearsals with his country gospel band so inspired Dumas that he learned to play the violin in his school orchestra class at the age of 12, before taking private fiddle lessons, then joining the family band “The Three Generations,” formed by his grandfather, his mother and his aunt.

Dumas went on to play the mandolin, guitar and banjo, becoming the co-founder of the Pacific Northwest-based bluegrass band “Northern Departure” with Luquette, before co-founding yet another bluegrass band, “North Country Bluegrass,” then moving to Tennessee in 2015 to become the mandolin player for the band “The Special Consensus.”

“The Special Consensus” won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year for 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Likewise, Luquette’s most recent band membership was with “Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen,” which was named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrumental Group of the Year for 2014 and 2016.

Even before Luquette and Dumas met more than a decade ago, discovering an instant rapport as they jammed together at venues in Tacoma and Portland, Oregon, Luquette was attracted to a diversity of musical genres ranging across the spectrum, from rock and country to bluegrass and Brazilian jazz, the latter of which he studied under Seattle-based Jovino Santos Neto.

“I love music that has its roots around the world,” said Luquette, who has also studied the folk music of Europe. “Even when I’m playing bluegrass, I can’t help all those influences from creeping into each other. Fortunately, audiences have been very open and receptive to this.”

Like Dumas, Luquette is a multi-instrumentalist, at home with not only the mandolin, the guitar (both acoustic and electric) and the banjo, but also drums, bass and Greek bouzouki.

In addition to deriving joy from the creative process itself, Luquette cherishes the collaborations he’s been able to strike up with fellow musicians, both the longstanding partnerships such as “Northern Departure” with Dumas, and the opportunities to sit in with notable names including Jerry Douglas, Emmylou Harris, Rob Ickes, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Kenny and Amanda Smith, the Boxcars, and Yogi and the Yoginis.

“I recently played with Sheriff Bob, of Sheriff and the Deputy,” Luquette said. “He recently turned 80, so he’s been celebrating his 80th birthday all year long, playing with different musicians. There’s a great camaraderie, whether you’re collaborating with different people for the first time, or playing with a band you know, with a consistent sound, while still keeping it fresh.”

Luquette has made a life, and a living, for himself in Brooklyn, but he’s happy to reunite with Dumas in the Pacific Northwest again, especially now that they’ve both retired from their most recent band memberships, and are mostly solo artists again.

“It started when we both came back home to Washington, to visit with our respective families for the holidays,” Luquette said. “Last year, we thought we would just do a couple of shows, but it turned into four or five. This year, we started with just one gig, and it expanded to the point where we had eight shows in eight days scheduled.”

The duo will be joined this year by Andrew Knapp on bass, but Luquette sees Knapp’s style as meshing well enough with his and Dumas’ that he regards their trio as a continuation of the duo’s output.

“You’re going to get acoustic-rooted bluegrass with high energy,” Luquette said. “We just 110% love to play.”

For further details and to book tickets for Dumas, Luquette and Knapp’s Dec. 14 show at the Rainshadow Recording Studio, visit brownpapertickets.com/event/3810197.

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