Big Meadow will perform at Vino Salida’s kickoff party
Pulling off to the side of the road near the Chaffee County Shooting Range, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Manager Matt Coen took a break from his day to answer his phone and discuss his other life as a singer-songwriter, guitarist and didgeridoo-playing Big Meadow band member.
As Matt tells it, he and his wife/fellow musician Andrea Earley Coen met when they were each performing at the wedding of two friends, also musicians. “Her band and my band were both playing at the wedding; my fiddle player married her guitar player.”
Many years later, in 2007, they formed organically grown Americana-styled Local Honey. Ultimately, the band’s name became Big Meadow after they discovered their domain name localhoney.com had already been snatched up and that a Toledo, Ohio, band also had the name.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back was during FIBArk a few years ago,” Matt said. “It was the biggest regional gig we’d had in a while, but the Ohio band got written up in the FIBArk program accidentally. Literally, during the show, people came up and said ‘Hey, we are from Ohio, too.’ We were like, no, we are actually ‘the local’ Local Honey.”
They chose the name Big Meadow in 2015 for a number of reasons. Years before Matt met Andrea, he played in a band named Big Meadow Sky, dubbed after a prominent meadow in Yosemite National Park near the Yosemite Institute, where Matt worked for six years. When the couple tied the knot and eventually moved to Buena Vista, they leased land to graze their cattle on the “big meadow” next to Cottonwood Creek Dairy, so it seemed fitting to marry the two bands.
Andrea, known locally for her impressive artistry on the fiddle, viola, banjo and vocals, characterizes herself as an “old-time fiddler.” Big Meadow percussionist and vocalist Dave Bokel connected with Matt when they were both teaching at the Crest Academy in Salida; Matt was instructing in science and Bokel taught music. Dan Waldvogle, on bass and vocals is the newest member of Big Meadow. “We did our first gig with him a couple weeks ago,” Coen said. “We met Dan within the farming community; he works the ranch next to us (near Elsie’s Bridge over the Arkansas River). We also got to know him through Andrea’s involvement with Guidestone.”
In any given show, the audience can expect to hear a little Irish music, a few Scottish tunes and a good amount of singer-songwriter music. But perhaps Matt clarified the genre best: “We take traditional forms and re-invent them; at that point regional Americana sort of works.”
Matt’s didgeridoo makes an appearance two or three times during a performance, he said, while explaining how such an atypical instrument fits in to the music. “It takes the place of the drone instrument, like the Scottish bagpipes.”
Coen described what listeners could look forward to on May 27. “At the Vino show we’ll be rolling out a couple new songs. We usually add at least four or five throughout a gig season (which runs from April to October.)
We’ll play some new material that we’re pretty excited about. It will be a good chance to see Dan play with the band.”
Vino Salida’s Kickoff to Summer Patio Party will run from 1 to 8 p.m. May 27, with Big Meadow playing from 5 to 8 p.m. Rustingram Catering is serving up food for the event and there will be $5 wine specials in the tasting room. Yard games will go on all day long. For more information on the event, visit vinosalida.com. Learn more about the band at bigmeadowmusic.com. To hear music by Big Meadow Sky, Coen’s former band, go to iTunes and Spotify.