Single Malt Band
Acoustic Rhythms from Beyond Bluegrass

by Lee Abraham

The Single Malt Bandís Jeff Hamer and Jordan Moretti used to travel in different circles. In spite of going to the same central Massachusetts high school, the two guitar players didnít meet until attending college in Colorado. "We just happened to come out to Boulder the same year," explains Hamer, who is two years younger than Moretti. "I was a freshman and Jordan transferred from where he was going to school in Pittsburgh."

Both were drawn to Boulderís thriving bluegrass scene. And almost as soon as they crossed paths, their music moved in the same direction. "At the time, we were playing electric guitars and werenít really listening to folk music or bluegrass, or anything like what weíre doing now," Hamer notes. "I always liked bluegrass but I never had the instrument to really start working on it, and then I got my first acoustic guitar. "

Moretti also went acoustic, opting to play fiddle and mandolin. The duo performed around Boulder, and soon attracted bassist Will Downes with their hybrid sound. "We were combining bluegrass with a darker, more fiddle driven British/Irish instrumental style," says Hamer. "Then we added Hooper Stiles on piano. Heís a great soloist, which takes the music into sort of a honky tonk, ragtime, sometimes rock feel. We try to keep some of the high energy of the rock we used to play, but the instrumentation now is more in line with bluegrass."

"I like the tone of acoustic instruments," admits Hamer. "I also find as a guitar player and playing a lot of rhythm, that I like -not- having the drums there dictating the rhythm to such a degree. What we do is both a challenge and an opportunity to have more freedom in the rhythm, because we donít have a drummer, itís up to the mandolin, bass and guitar to create a rhythmic groove. If you can play it tight and make it work, itís really rewarding."