January 1st, 2004 9:35 AM

The SpareTime Bluegrass Band 2004

The name is indicative of both the state of bluegrass music and the fact that everyone has an actual job. Years ago the Country Gazette released an album titled “Don’t give Up Your Day Job”-a joshing reminder to bluegrass artists of where there priorities might lay. SpareTime, no fools, took the advice to heart and dedicated themselves to having Bluegrass fun in their “Spare Time.”

“Ten years ago on a cold, dark night”…..is a wonderful opening line for a song, and has relevance to The SpareTime Bluegrass Band as an indicator of how much time has passed for the band. It was some ten years ago (the origins are hazy-indicating much beer under the bridge) that SpareTime was formed by Dave Carper, Steve “Buck “Bethel, Bob Batyko, and Bobby Steeno. Over the years other musicians have cycled through the group, most notably Sims Delaney-Potthoff, Jennifer Little, and Scott R. Shank. Other musicians were “Spare Parts” for the band-a loose mélange of players brought in on special occasions. George Diak, Lorie Docken, and Mike Schmidt spared their time to be with the band.

Today the core lineup is:
Bob Batyko: guitar,
Bobby Steeno: mandolin,
Lisa Steeno: bass, and
Jim Robarts: banjo.
The last year has seen Rebecca Patek on fiddle for various dates.

The band is thoroughly grounded in “traditional” bluegrass and performs numbers from Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and Jimmy Martin. SpareTime also dips into numbers by Robbie Fulks, the Rolling Stones, Blind Faith, and Bob Dylan (with occasional forays in John Hartford and polka music). In short the mix is eclectic, but rooted in a bluegrass instrumentation and sensibility.

Given that the bluegrass world is a small, cohesive mix of professional and semi-professional bands, the SpareTime Bluegrass Band has appeared on bills with Del McCoury, James King, Special Consensus, David Davis & the Warrior River Boys, and Lynne Morris. Of course SpareTime has played its share of weddings, bars, church bazaars, water parks, and birthday parties. Once they even backed up an older gentleman on musical saw (mercifully for only one song and suffering the criticisms of the saw “artist” when they didn’t seem to pick up the musical key quickly enough). In the words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

On the personal front everyone has a college education, everyone has adult children no longer living at home. Everyone has a job. Everyone (amazingly) has a full head of hair. On the individual, personal front……..

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