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The music of local band Buster Blue mixes folk, rock, fables, friendship
by Krystal Bick
May 13, 2009 | 1777 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy photo/Alex Lemus - The members of Buster Blue grew up together in Gardnerville and play Monday night at Tonic Lounge in Reno.
Courtesy photo/Alex Lemus - The members of Buster Blue grew up together in Gardnerville and play Monday night at Tonic Lounge in Reno.
Bryan Jones likes things a bit hectic. After all, he has six different people in his band with a running list of 11 musical instruments (that he can remember), which he coordinates all while trying to produce and record the band’s own albums on unpredictable school and work schedules.

“I’m literally playing with my friends, though,” said Jones, one of the lead singers and guitarists for local band Buster Blue. “I look forward to that.”

Jones and the rest of his eclectic, folksy sounding indie rock band grew up together in Gardnerville, and developed their musical interests together through school marching bands and other outlets — all of which helps explain their tight group dynamic.

“I don’t know how I could play with a smaller band,” said Jones, who, along with band mate Andy Martin, writes the songs. “We complement each other.”

Today, Buster Blue, named after an imaginary cowboy that Jones used to write songs about, has its first record out available for sale —“This Beard Grows for Freedom”— and will be appearing Monday at Tonic Lounge in Reno.

So, how does one accumulate seven band members, exactly?

“The band kind of organically happened,” Jones said. “I started writing music for the band when it was just me and I didn’t know where it was going. And then slowly, we filtered through members here and there.”

The full band brings a variety of musical influences to the table, Jones said, with traces of jazz, rock and even some western ballads pulsing through their eight-track album.

“We all bring something different,” Jones said.

He also cited some of the advantages of having so many people in a band, a la indie bands Arcade Fire or “The Boss,” Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

“Somehow it works out,” Jones added.

Surprisingly, while growing up, Jones didn’t listen to much rock and roll until he was in the seventh grade. Before then, he developed other musical interests, specifically folk, storytelling and even spiritual music, all of which shine in “This Beard Grows for Freedom.”

“There’s a lot of songs (from the album) dealing with murder, a lot of murder ballads,” Jones said. “One of our band mates summed it up perfectly calling it ‘Reno spiritual music.’ A lot of stuff in the vein of spirituals with heavier subject matter.”

Don’t let the murder part jar you, though, as Buster Blue’s music is far from dark. With accompanying sounds of piano, banjo, saxophone and the occasional whistling, its vibe as a band is lively, like sitting on a front porch in a simpler time.

“I try to write songs that stick with people,” Jones said. “I don’t try to be catchy but I have to able to sing it in my head and remember it. Fortunately, we’re good at filtering out the crap.”

Unpretentious, yes, but its album title is even more suggestive of the band’s laid-back, almost quirky personality.

“It’s what my grandpa said before he died,” Jones said. “It’s something that goes on in people’s brains … that when they go through something big, it’s a weird impulse to grow facial hair. If you look at all revolutionary leaders, they’ve all grown beards. There must be something that goes on with that. So our album title is just a lighthearted look into that thought.”

At the end of the day, it all comes down to making music, which Jones said he couldn’t be happier doing.

“I get to play music with my best friends,” Jones said with a laugh, before adding, “Whether they like it or not, they’re my best friends.”

Monday’s show begins at 8 p.m. with Magnolia Electric Co. and The Stately Gentlemen. Tickets are $10 and are sold at the door.

Buster Blue’s album is available for sale on iTunes,, Amazon, Discology and at Sundance Bookstore in Reno.
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