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Young Band ‘Run Boy Run’ Shifts Into High Gear After Telluride Victory

Run Boy Run

What do you get when you stir together a sister/sisterBluegrassduo, a brother/sister act with classical inclinations, a street musician, and two state fiddling championships? A young new Arizona group with the striking name Run Boy Run (no commas, please) who have, in the past year alone, chalked up two achievements that even more established bands would take pride in:

The group ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a new full-length album titled “So Sang the Whippoorwill,” engineered and produced by Jim Brady of Tucson, and then appeared twice on “A Prairie Home Companion,” gaining a rave review from host Garrison Keillor.

“Doing a weekly radio show for a few decades, a man sometimes feels he has heard way too much music,” Keillor wrote, in his characteristic self-deprecating style. “Then he avoids cafes where singer/songwriters perform and puts his iPod in the drawer and enjoys long silent walks in the snowy woods and then along comes this very band, Run Boy Run, two fiddles, mandolin, cello, and bass, young musicians who have caught the spirit of the traditional and who combine bold playing and beautiful harmony singing, which is a miracle whenever you hear it.

“My only quibble was whether they shouldn’t separate the Boy from the Run Run with a pair of commas, but now I think not. I saw them clear late one night at a party when they played for three hours straight, unamplified, and danced while they did it, and wanted to play more but the van was leaving. I am old and jaded but I still have my hearing and when I hear Run Boy Run, it all comes back to me, why I started doing that show back then. I hope they go on forever.”

Closer to home, Run Boy Run is called “one ofArizona’s hottest young acts” by Tucson Weekly, and has band-contest wins at both Pickin’ in the Pines and Telluride. Their performance during Country Thunder was described by an Arizona Daily Star reviewer as “the most musical show of the four-day festival.”

Natives ofPayson,Ariz., sisters Jen and Bekah Sandoval grew up in their parents’ Bluegrass band, but didn’t meet guitarist/fiddle champion Matt Rolland and his cellist sister Grace until they were all students at the University of Arizona. Then one day Matt heard Jesse Allen playing bass on a street corner and invited him to become the fifth member of the group. They initially focused on an old-time string repertoire, but more recently are categorized asBluegrassin their festival billings.

Grace Rolland says the Telluride win was a sort of turning point on the band’s journey: “We had no expectation or hope whatsoever of making it to the final round. It was like, ‘Are we allowed to be here?’ ‘Is this really happening?’ Then when they called our name it was like, ‘So this IS really happening. OK, cool.

“Up to that point we hadn’t solidified what Run Boy Run was, or what we really wanted to do. We just did songs we knew and went from there, but after the competition we had this amazing opportunity and we really wanted to take it.”

Though “So Sang the Whippoorwill” is the group’s first full-length album, new fans of Run Boy Run have two other sources of material to explore: The digital medley “Burgundy Wine” and “Willow Garden,” and their self-titled first EP from 2011, with “Waterbound,” “Lazy John,” “Train on the Island,” “Lady Margaret,” and “Liza Jane.”

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