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The Bagboys: Bgrass, swing, humor add up

By Jeffrey B. Remz, December 1997

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Chabot says, "Whoever wanted to sit in and could play something, that was cool."

Bowder says, "I still felt too nervous. I didn't want to do the Plough & Stars. I didn't feel I was good enough just yet."

Starting that September, Bowder did.

The Bagboys maintained their current configuration for almost three years.

This is not a band that can be easily pigeon-holed, according to Bowder.

And that seems just fine with her. "Everybody in the band brings their own influences to it," Bowder says. "Harvey really loves swing. Bob likes bluegrass. Everybody likes those things that people bring into it."

Bowder says she "loves the variety of the stuff we do." The band has even worked out a four-part harmony with ukulele, "See You In My Dreams," a 70-year-old Broadway tune.

"We have so much fun. We bring in different styles of music."

Chabot, who got into music from the church where his father was a minister, says the band was introduced to bluegrass via folk and an Old Timey string band.

"Our approach has always been to do songs we like and not worry about what genre we were playing," Chabot says. "We definitely latched onto people like Doc Watson early on."

"We decided we didn't want to be a cover band," Chabot says. "This is really lame."

"Doc became God for us really," Chabot says. "Just loved the simplicity and the sincerity, the soulfulness."

The Bagboys covered Watson tunes and influenced their writing as well. Attending a Bill Monroe show also was a big influence.

Jost was into swing music, mainly courtesy of Bob Wills records.

"We loved the Old Timey stuff," Chabot says. "We loved traditional country."

Chabot says the band embarked on the CD because "we had a huge backlog of songs and a lot of original songs and just figured it would be a lot of fun to put it on disc. People are always asking if we have a CD or a tape. We didn't have anything that represented us in our current arrangement."

Recorded in the summer of 1996, the disc was released a year later. Chabot tends to sing the bluegrass material and Jost country and swing. But Bowder also gets her chance.

"We realized that Gretchen had a better voice than us, so we should have her singing most of our songs," Chabot says.

Bowder sang lead on "Sweet Molly Brown, written by Jost. Bowder "made it a little more interesting having a different singer," Chabot says.

While still playing the Plough, band members may be looking ahead.

"For years we were happy to do nothing more than play at the Plough and not worry about promoting or doing anything at all," Chabot says. "But we've gotten such great response in the last year or so that we're motivated to and expand beyond the Plough & Stars a little bit."

Bluegrass festivals could be on the horizon.

But Chabot still maintains, "We don't take ourselves too seriously, That's been the whole point of it really. We're not out to make any statements necessarily. We just like to get together and have a great time and pass that energy on."

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