Bar BQ Boyz play bluegrass sounds at Nelson's Take Five every month

There is a new sound in Carson Valley - "it has drive and soul and a definite Nashville twang."

The Bar BQ Boyz are a Carson Valley-based band playing bluegrass instruments and, indeed, playing bluegrass music. They are also playing classic rock, blues, country, and reggae, amongst other genres.

As they put it, "From Bill Monroe to the Violent Femmes, the Bar BQ Boyz have a bit of something for everyone."

The Bar BQ Boyz came together early last fall to embark on their musical journey, forming a bluegrass set-up that includes Paul Cutunilli on mandolin, Bobby Smile on guitar, Johnny Walter on stand-up bass and Michael Chambon on banjo. In addition to the instruments named, Walter plays blues harmonica, Cutunilli plays the bass, and Smile and Chambon both play the dobro, resulting in a number of instrumental permutations and the ability to recreate themselves, song after song.

So who are these Bar BQ Boyz? Walter, Smile, and Cutunilli are co-workers at GE/Bently, and have played together annually at the GE-sponsored "Relay for Life," a charity event for the American Cancer Society. The Bar BQ Boyz will open at this year's Relay, on Aug. 26. Chambon joined the group, which was a work-in-progress, forming a quartet. Cutunilli and Chambon sing lead and harmony vocals, with Walter singing bass back-up vocals and taking the lead on several numbers, including off-beat tunes like Commander Cody's "Hot Rod Lincoln."

Their repertoire includes bluegrass standards like Bill Monroe's "Walls of Time," as well as tunes from the popular movie "Oh Brother, Where art Thou?" On the heels of the camp classic, "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," (a.k.a., "The Beverly Hillbillies") they are likely to break out with a Led Zeppelin tune, or "All Along the Watchtower," written by Dylan and popularized by Jimi Hendrix. Grateful Dead or Johnny Cash might follow, with Bob Marley's reggae beat close behind. It all is played "with drive and soul and a definite Nashville twang," said the Bar BQ Boyz.

Musically, their backgrounds are diverse. Smile, Cutunilli and Walter have played for several bands, and have toured, recorded and opened for national performing artists. Walter led the local "Blue Dawgs Band." Smile majored in guitar at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Cutunilli, after playing guitar in a touring and recording band, received his grandfather's mandolin as a wedding present and has returned to his Telluride bluegrass roots. Chambon studied classical piano for 10 years, traded that in for the banjo, and now enjoys jamming at Northern Nevada Bluegrass Association events.

The Bar BQ Boyz consider Nelson's Take Five, in Gardnerville, their home base. They performed there for the first time last November and continue to play monthly at Nelson's. The Bar BQ Boyz will play again at Nelson's Take Five, 1435 Highway 395 in Gardnerville, at 7 p.m. on April 29, with no cover charge. For information, call Nelson's at 782-8287.


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