If you go
What: Wandering Natives w/ Stang Gappa
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: hi-dive, 7 S. Broadway, Denver, 720-570-4500
Cost: $6

It's not a surprise to encounter a band that's just winging it, with no direction or deep musical knowledge. Contrary to what the name might suggest, Wandering Natives is not one of those bands.

Bands that make it up as they go along can be very good, of course, but the extra thought that Colin Major, Seth Tolbert, Henry Vogt, Kendra Walker and Robby Sands put into their music is noticeable. It jumps out from the careful harmonies, unusual tunings and complex instrumentals.

With guitarists Major and Tolbert and banjo player Vogt writing the songs, the resulting “hard-rock bluegrass” sound is the product of trained musicians trying to create something different.

“I kind of try to get out of the traditional verse/chorus/verse/bridge/verse/chorus kind of thing,” Major said. “I try to use notes that people don't usually hear and use harmonies and chordal structures that people don't usually hear.


Major is a guitar performance and music business major at University of Colorado-Denver, where Tolbert left the same program, preferring to keep music as his passion, not his school work. Tolbert often brings “bizarre” alternate guitar tunings like open G to the table and Vogt, Major said, is more heavily influenced by other bands, like Yonder Mountain String Band.

“In general, we work a song out in the band and ... we all come to the table with an idea for a song that's pretty much completed in our own minds,” Major said. “What really makes us happy -- or me, at least -- is when I bring a song and (the band members) do something that I never would have thought of -- and the song transcends what you thought it could be.”

Wandering Natives has a few demo tracks available on its ReverbNation page, and for demos, they sound pretty clear and polished. The band is hardly a year old, but there's already signs of promise.

“I've been playing in bands around Colorado for a while, but we just got started about a year ago,” Major said. “This band is kind of on the newer side. This [Saturday] is one of our introductory shows we're doing, but we're working on an album right now.”

Major has a broad plan looking ahead, starting with getting that album out in a few months. From there, the focus will be on building a strong local fan base, then branching out to Wyoming and the Western Slopes --areas where he knows there's a big market for a rock and bluegrass blend, he said.

Some might dismiss this as tactical business talk, but it's that sort of planning and knowledge, combined with a love for music, that could take Wandering Natives to the next level.

“We're all kind of collaborating with our own experiences of music. We all love bluegrass, we love rock ‘n' roll, we love folk music and stuff like that,” Major said. “And we're aspiring to bigger and better things.”

Before you check them out at the hi-dive, have a peek at this video of Major and Tolbert playing their song "Color Red."