The Blind Pigs, an exciting collaboration comprised of Coleman Smith & Alex Johnstone from the award-winning band Rapidgrass, David Lawerence from LaPompe, Gary Sloan from The Royal Street Ramblers, and the incredibly talented newcomer, Bonnie Lea Culpepper. Their melding sound can’t be nailed down by just one musical genre so be prepared to be amazed by their acoustic and electrical wizardry that is certain to leave you wanting more.
The first music that really touched me was the blues. From Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf to Sonny Boy and B.B. King I have always felt an affinity to the raw character and honesty these songs convey. My love for the blues blossomed into vintage swing and jazz with greats like Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and most notably gypsy jazz great Django Reinhardt. Pulling from the blues, gypsy jazz and swing my originals have taken on the character of well worn shoes. Soulful lyrics combined with authentic guitar playing that take you on journey to a new place while never leaving home.
Coleman’s love affair with the violin started at the tender age of 3 at which time he began studying the Suzuki Violin Method. After studying a variety of musical styles in his formidable years, Coleman was eventually awarded a full Presidential scholarship to the music department at Marywood University where he studied music performance and minored in music pedagogy. Coleman developed his unique approach to violin while playing with a multitude of the nations top performers such as Asleep At The Wheel, original members of The Texas Playboys, Ramin Karimloo, Clay Akin, Tim Carbone, The Drew Emmit Band, Hickory Project and a multitude of other professional groups.
Alex started playing professionally while living in Crested Butte and it was here when he began rising to the top of the Colorado Mandolin scene. Alex toured with the high-intensity, progressive bluegrass band Spring Creek for over a decade before joining Colorado-based bluegrass group, Rapidgrass in 2014. Together with his band, Alex performs both nationally and internationally, headlining some of Europes largest Bluegrass Festivals. In addition, Alex has over a decade of experience leading both Mandolin and Guitar workshops for students of all ages. When Alex is not performing he enjoys teaching private lessons at Coletrain Music Academy and shredding trails on both his skis and mountain bike.
Bonnie Lea Culpepper has a trained background in the classical styles of piano and voice. She also has a great love for Ukulele, which she taught herself to play at the age of 7. In school, her passion was performing Operatic pieces in many different languages and time periods. Her love of music has led her to become a touring singer/songwriter in the styles of contemporary rock, folk, Americana, jam, bluegrass, jazz, and blues. As a passionate professional musician, Bonnie places utmost importance on creative musical freedom. She strives to bring the skills and knowledge to her students to provide a foundation for FUN with music.
Bassist Gary Sloan has music in his blood: his father started the first blues band in the state of Alaska and continues to entertain over fifty years later. Gary received a Summer Jazz Scholarship from the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society (NAJS) in 2010; the next year Gary’s original music was featured at the NAJS Composer’s showcase and his quartet was nominated for the Northwest Arkansas Music Awards Best Jazz Group. After graduating in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, Gary taught up to 40 students a week on guitar, bass, mandolin, piano, and ukulele at a local music store. In 2013 he moved to Boulder, CO to pursue a Master’s of Music in Jazz Performance & Pedagogy at the University of Colorado. Driven by his melodic sense and rhythmic acuity and informed by his perspective as a mulit-instrumentalist, Gary’s philosophy as a bassist is deep yet simple- above all else, the role of a bassist is to support his fellow musicians in a way that enhances the music to make the entire experience sound and feel its best.