Best Local Bluegrass Bands In Seattle

September 18, 2013 5:00 AM

(photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

For those unfamiliar with bluegrass music, it is a sub-genre of country western and is also known as American roots music. Bluegrass didn’t make its debut in the United States until sometime in the 1880s, but since then, it has become a popular style that is sometimes infused with rock, jazz, folk and blues. The Seattle area features a few local bluegrass bands, with some being longtime musicians and others newly formed. Regardless of their time together, these Seattle bluegrass bands are a hit wherever they play and give music fans a reason to get up and dance.

Weatherside Whiskey Band

The Weatherside Whiskey Band considers itself a mix of bluegrass, country and Americana. This five-piece bluegrass band formed not too long ago at the end of 2011, but has been going strong ever since and is rated as the No. 1 bluegrass band on the Reverb Nation music site. Weatherside Whiskey Band’s members include Tanner McInerney (banjo, mandolin, vocals), Jakob Singer (lead guitar, harmonica, dobro, vocals), Amy Meyer (vocals), Jacob Yackshaw (double bass) and Peter Reni (percussionist). When Weatherside Whiskey Band is booked locally, you’ll find the group at venues like the High Dive or the Tractor Tavern playing original songs like “Life on the Weatherside,” “Down the Line” or “Rocky Mountain Home.”

Dysfunction Junction

Dysfunction Junction is a Seattle bluegrass band that has five regular members, but also several additional non-regular members that rotate in and out so they get a chance to play with this ensemble of talented musicians. Dysfunction Junction was formed solely to create great bluegrass music and to have a good time while playing it. The majority of Dysfunction Junction shows are played at private functions and parties, but you can catch the band periodically at open venues like Ballard’s Smokin Pete’s BBQ. Regular “Dysfunctionites” include Patrick Ferris (bass, vocals), John Brogan (mandolin, vocals), Jason Stewart (banjo, vocals), Kirk Reese (guitar, mandolin, vocals) and Tim Wetmiller (fiddle). The band’s songs that are more popular include “Lonesome Road Blues,” “Airmail Special” and “A Hundred Years from Now.”

Related:  Best Bluegrass Festivals in WA

North Country Bluegrass

Newly formed in 2012, Seattle’s North Country Bluegrass band has quickly put itself on the map by playing venues like the Paramount Theatre and the annual Wintergrass bluegrass festival in Bellevue, WA. Each of the band’s five members is passionate about bluegrass and it shows in its popular songs like “Sunny Side of the Mountain,” “Shake a Tower” and “Redwood Hill.” North Country Bluegrass is comprised of Nick Dumas (mandolin, fiddle, lead and harmony vocals), Kent Powell (stand-up bass), Norm Olsen (lead guitar), Stephen Burwell (fiddle) and Will McSeveney (five-string banjo). Catch the band’s performances at any Washington State bluegrass festival during the year or venues like Fremont’s Nectar Lounge.

SJMc2: The Steve And Jane McMahon Duet

Husband-and-wife team, Steve and Jane McMahon have been playing bluegrass music around the Pacific Northwest for more than 20 years. In addition to bluegrass, the couple thoroughly enjoys playing gospel songs relative to their faith and Americana and American roots. Steve and Jane both sing and are versatile when it comes to instrument playing too. Steve sings both lead and harmony vocals, while playing the stand-up bass, guitar and harmonica. Jane sings backup vocals, plus plays the banjo, autoharp, dobro, mandolin and viola. The couple’s key musical influences include The Beatles, Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss. Find Steve and Jane jamming throughout the year at a number of Washington State bluegrass festivals like Shelton’s Bluegrass from the Forest and the Darrington Bluegrass Festival.

Related:  Best Places to Discover New Music in Seattle

Sue Gabel has been writing entertainment and travel-related articles in the greater Puget Sound/Seattle area since 1999. She writes about music, the Seattle scene and more. Her work can be found on

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