Life after varsity band

by Sharlene Irete

The members of Buster Blue have come a long way from playing in the commons at Douglas High School. They celebrate the release of their second CD with a show in the Celebrity Showroom at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks on June 18.

Buster Blue is Bryan Jones, Andrew Martin, Brendon Lund, Rachael McElhiney, Jason Ricketts and Jay Escamillo, who graduated from Douglas High School from 2000 through 2006.

Their new CD, 'When the Silver's Gone,' was recorded inside Piper's Opera House in Virginia City.

"It was the first CD ever recorded there," said Bryan Jones. "We did what sounded right in the room. It sounds like a band playing music in a opera. The room gives it a big sounding folk rock sound."

The band is described on their website as folk/thrash/Western swing. What can be heard on "When the Silver's Gone" is old-timey piano, sweet vocals, and creative instrumentation including a plunger-muted trombone straight out of St. James Infirmary.

Buster Blue is known for using a laundry list of instruments. Besides piano and trombone, they play accordion, banjo, guitar, bass, tenor sax, baritone sax, clarinet and bass clarinet, ukulele, drums and percussion instruments including chains.

"We got to use the chains used on the last Johnny Cash album, 'Ain't No Chains,'" said Jones. "We got them from Rick Rubin who was the producer. He knew I would freak out when I heard they were Cash's chains. But they were just borrowed. We had to give them back."

A lot of the CD was recorded live in Piper's, where Jones said he got tips on how to mic his banjo from Scott Avett, and the band worked with producers Zak Girdis and Kevin Bosley at Rubin's Hollywood recording studio.

"We can all play so many instruments, and can go in so many different directions. You're always searching for the right way to play a song," said Jones. "Having an outside ear is really good for us. The producers were there to really push us."

Buster Blue's first album, "This Beard Grows for Freedom," was released February 2009. The band has been popular in Reno for several years, and are busting out from bar band status to playing showrooms.

"This is biggest show for us," said Jones about the Nugget show. "Next is touring. From July on we'll be on full-time priority for the record."

Buster Blue's CD release show is 8 p.m. June 18 in the Celebrity Showroom at John Ascuaga's Nugget. A free CD of "When the Silver's Gone" is included in ticket price. Singer/guitarist Kate Cotter opens. Tickets are $15 and are available at

Information about Buster Blue tour dates at


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