Sweetwater String Band
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Sweetwater String Band

Mammoth Lakes, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Mammoth Lakes, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Americana Bluegrass




"Sweetwater String Band - River of Rhymes"

The band have created a work of both intimacy and wide-scale, cinematic vistas. A work which juxtaposes serious insight and commentary with bright, often jaunty, almost athletic arrangements. The intimacy and seriousness of the introduction to the opener, "The Weather She Breaks," is superseded by the band picking up the tune and running with it. The sound has a definite "classic" edge to it, coupled with a feel which is very much personal to the band and their influences -- a feel of the natural environment which surround them. As soon as the album starts, you feel as though both it and the band who have produced it, are a one-off. Huebner’s signature cello adds layers of depth to the opening track, as his involved bow work adds both tempo and melody to the song’s tale of traveling, wandering, and returning.

The intriguing lead vocals and high harmonies on "Empty Road" are counterbalanced by a driving tempo, and the song is the first in a series of moments which illustrate how the bands arrangements work so well. The sound is deep and earthy, with all parts functioning as a well-balanced unit. The songs work because the band does, and vice versa.

The aforementioned tribute to the late Mr Watson, "Doc’s Waltz," is a lovely, lilting, smiling tribute to the man who brought joy to so many. The cello floats over and above its musical compatriots, showing off the SSB’s new and different string band music – an uncanny combination of old and new, South East and North West. It’s relaxing, almost beguiling tone is offset by its commentary on environmental and social situation – and this is not the last time the album will visit this juxtaposition.

A bright, sprightly tune ("They Turned the Mountains Upside Down") interacts with a song of localness, local knowledge and attitude, the imposition of outsiders, and the environmental damage and destruction which this can lead to. The importance of staying honest and true is driven along by strong, powerful accompaniment, and this theme is continued on "Flood", albeit to a slower, more creeping tune, as we are warned about what is happening now, and of the power of nature over everything, even man.

"Workingman’s Blues" shows the band’s passion for true stories told through observance and the understanding of what is really happening in the world. One way of resisting the destruction of our locales is by highlighting these transgressions through the measures of writing songs and singing them. That is why it is important for as many people as possible to hear this song, this record, and this band.

The Sweetwater String Band are an incredibly together unit, and understand their music and each other. Their playing and their harmonies are intuitive, and they display a great deal of respect for what they are doing. The ups and downs of life are discussed on "What Goes Up", with flowing cello, light, sparkling mandolin and good back up from bass and guitar. We are reminded that despite disagreements, we all share ground, and everyone is the same in the end.

A neat touch of banjo pops up on "It’ll Be OK", a loving, tender tribute to a partner which really sums up the togetherness of the band. This is another constant theme of the record, both in terms of the music and the contents of the songs.

"Tossin’ and Turnin’" has a really well-worked and interesting, toe-tapping tune which rises and falls as the beat keeps going and the various instruments weave in and out. It reveals the variety of moods which the band have captured on River Of Rhymes, exploring what they can do and what works – and it all works really well. Closer "A Million Miles" has some more beautiful banjo, as it drives along in a Chatham County Line style. The words recount life in a band, on tour and on the road – full of wide expanses and close, intimate playing and harmonies.

River Of Rhymes is one of those records which are instantly likeable, a truly worthy listen. The songs are great, their playing immaculate, and their approach and subject matters fascinating. The band have an interesting sound, diverse and different. - No Depression

"Sweetwater String Band"

"They were able to wriggle their way into a slot in the 2013 Durango Bluegrass Meltdown at the last minute and delivered a performance that is sure to bring them back... High-energy string-band music founded on a warming cello and ripping mandolin... Sweetwater String Band have a fresh take on bluegrass... that will keep the dance floor full and the bourbon flowing... Dave Huebner's cello playing brings a sincere and altered take on bluegrass, [delivering a] resounding warmth to the stringed quartet... Jeff Meadway has a fantastic delivery with flawless transition between rhythm and flatpicking that fills in the space between the mandolin chops and drawn out bowing of the cello." - Pow'r Pickin', Newsletter of the Colorado Bluegrass Association

"Sweetwater String Band"

“[This] band from Mammoth Lakes has a distinctive high-energy brand of bluegrass with a cello in overdrive... Scott wrote a tribute to Doc Watson, and “Doc’s Waltz” is filled with lovely mandolin passages and the sounds and smells that capture the essence of a special country place. “They Turned the Mountains Upside Down” is a powerful tribute to Larry Gibson, who resisted the mining companies in Virginia that took family lands and literally turned them upside down to get the coal... “Workingman’s Blues” is an album highlight focusing on the “forgotten women, forgotten men” and the forces that control them. With a unique instrumental sound powered by cello and bass, the Sweetwater String Band can deliver songs with messages to be heard." - Bluegrass Breakdown, Newsletter of the California Bluegrass Association


River of Rhymes, 2014
Debut, 2011



Sweetwater String Band is a 4-piece, cello driven bluegrass band founded in the Eastern Sierra of California in 2008. Their music blends Chatham County Line style lyricism with Yonder Mountain String Band style energy, wrapping audiences in an enthusiastic yet introspective atmosphere.  The band has toured quite a bit recently with festival appearances in Colorado at RapidGrass and YarmonyGrass, in addition to this September’s Lost Sierra Hoedown in the northern Sierra Nevada and multiple tours of the West Coast. In 2014 they released “River of Rhymes” which Gideon Thomas of No Depression describes as:  "a work of both intimacy and wide-scale, cinematic vistas…instantly likeable, a truly worthy listen. The songs are great, their playing immaculate, and their approach and subject matters fascinating.”

Band Members