Bluegrass Homecoming 

Colorado music with Virginia roots.

It didn't take long for Hoggan to meet four other top-notch acoustic players who shared a similar desire to mix traditional bluegrass with contemporary sounds, and Hit and Run Bluegrass was born. The band found surprising success straight out of the box, winning the 2002 Rockygrass Band Competition.

"We had only played together, like, three gigs," Hoggan recalls. "It gave us an affirmation to keep going."

A year later, Hit and Run won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest, becoming the only group to win both competitions. Since that time, the 3-year-old band has been a regular act on the Western bluegrass festival circuit, and its hard-driving sound has made it one of the top bands in an area rich with competition.

This fall, the group brings its Alison Krauss-meets-Jimmy Martin grooves to the Southland for the first time. Hit and Run's Thursday show at Ashland Coffee and Tea marks the band's first area appearance.

The three-week swing through the South came about almost by accident. The group already had plans to play October's International Bluegrass Music Association Fan Fest in Kentucky when a North Carolina festival promoter invited the band to play on a bill with bluegrass masters Martin and J.D. Crowe a few weeks earlier. Not wanting to make two separate trips to this area from Colorado, the group decided to book more gigs and test a broader Southern market with its contemporary yet familiar sound.

"I'm definitely looking forward to coming to the Southeast," Hoggan says. "I think it's going to be crazy for us. Bluegrass is more concentrated there [but] I think we feel ready to be there now."

The band is touring behind its first CD, "Beauty Fades." With its mix of originals and relatively obscure covers, the project is a showcase for estimable guitar, mandolin, banjo and Dobro talents. Three-part harmonies and vocals highlighted by Hoggan's sweetly soulful and full-bodied soprano nail the high-lonesome sound down.

Hoggan says she's homesick for some things about Virginia — "I miss the humidity. My throat gets so dry" — but she's enjoying the music she and her band-mates make high up in the Western mountains.

"People have come to learn that Colorado is a real bluegrass state now," Hoggan concludes. "Once they hear our music, they know we're the real thing." S

Hit and Run Bluegrass plays Ashland Coffee and Tea, 100 N. Railroad Ave., Thursday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance through www.ashlandcoffeeandtea.com. Call 798-1702 for more information.

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