The Alpha Blonde


This article was written on 02 Jul 2010, and is filled under 31 days of Fresno: Summer Edition, Dalton Mountain Gang.

31 Days- Summer Edition: Day 2- Dalton Mountain Gang

For some of the finest foot-stampingest, dance around and clap your hands bluegrass you don’t need to travel far. The Dalton Mountain Gang’s Fresno roots are apparent with every single note they play. I’m not a bluegrass expert (my knowledge begins and ends with Old Crow Medicine Show and Nickel Creek) but I can tell you this- bluegrass fan or not, you absolutely will love the Dalton Mountain Gang. And lucky you- they’re playing a free show tonight at the Clovis Veteran’s Memorial Square.

I caught up with bass player Paul Chesterton– my motto is always trust a man with a beard– and asked a few questions about the band.

How long has the band been together?
The band has been been around for about 4 years now, but we’ve been playing with the current lineup now for about 2 years and that’s really when things took off for us. The chemistry and friendship of the people in the band really comes across on stage and we all just genuinely enjoy playing music with each other! We’re also pretty new bluegrass players, in the scheme of things. I believe that this was the first actual bluegrass band that any of us had ever been in.

Where did you come up with the name Dalton Mountain Gang?
Well, the name isn’t just some arbitrary “bluegrassy” sounding name. There actually is a Dalton Mountain and it’s up in the foothills around Squaw Valley, East of Fresno on the way up to Sequoia National Park. Two of the founding members of the band lived on opposite sides of that mountain, so it just fit. Now the “gang” part comes from the reason the mountain got its name. Over 100 years ago, a group of brothers who robbed trains and banks, hid up there and had a shoot out with the authorities. They were called the “Dalton Gang” and some of their ancestors still live up in that area! So we added that little bit of local history into the name.*

How does living in the valley influence your music?
Well, traditionally, the Fresno area, much like Bakersfield, has been a hotbed for country and western swing music. Many of the older fiddlers and guitarists around here played in those kinds of bands over the years. We all learned to play bluegrass music from the local people here in jam sessions, bluegrass music festivals, and the like, so I think we got some of that old country and western swing flavor from those folks. Often, we’ll mix in a little bit of country and western swing into our sets as well. Local folk/bluegrass/old-time music legend, Kenny Hall, has left a big impression on us as well! That man is known all around the world and plays here every week in Fresno!

Where is your favorite local venue to play?
You know, lining up our schedules has been pretty difficult, so we don’t get to play many local gigs, but this will be our 3rd year playing the Bluegrass in the Park events that they hold in Clovis during the Spring/Summer on Friday evenings and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed it! Playing outside, on the grass, under the trees is just such a fitting place for this kind of natural, organic music! For the past 3 years, we’ve been a mainstay at the annual Hobb’s Grove bluegrass festival, the last weekend of every September, and that’s just a great event that we love every year!

And a fun one- It’s your last meal ever- What Fresno restaurant would you have make it for you and what would it be?
Well, I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but for me, I’d want Steak and Seafood Teppan-Yaki and some great sushi from the Japanese Kitchen on Shaw! But that’s a tough one, because the Luby Chinese restaurant on Willow and Nees has amaaaazing Kung Pao! Maybe I could get them both to work together for a last meal! I’d die a happy feller!

Be sure to get your sweet selves out there tonight and come dance it out bluegrass style with me as we enjoy some incredible valley talent.

Friday, July 2, 2010
6:30pm – 8:30pm
Clovis Veteran’s Memorial Square
901 Fifth Street
Clovis, CA

You can buy their brand spankin’ new album here!

*I LOVE this about them!

Mike Osegueda got to them before I did, be sure to check out his piece, too!

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