Scratchdog Stringband is James Rossi (violin, mandolin) Andrew DeRossett (guitar, bass) Maxwell Countryman Skewes (banjo) and Tullius Eggers (guitar, bass).
Although no one really knows where the term originated, a "scratchdog" is a working musician, scratching on any instrument they can find, scratching out a living, and sometimes living like a dog to do it. The term was bestowed upon the founding members 5 years ago, and they built Scratchdog Stringband around that ethos.
What started as a chance meeting for two musicians busking on a corner of Arcata, California has blossomed into a group that has both toured the US extensively as well as internationally. The band plays a high-energy, innovative brand of bluegrass that satisfies both old-school traditionalists and newcomers to the genre. Some of the hardest working young musicians in the Pacific Northwest, the Portland-based ensemble has blazed through over three-hundred shows in the last two years, entertaining audiences with their rich harmonies, lush fiddle lines and break-neck banjo picking. But the Scratchdogs aren't ever married to their instruments, seamlessly passing around the upright bass, guitar, fiddle, mandolin and banjos while trading lead vocals. Their live shows feature lightning-fast rippers sung of murder and ruin, swaggering tongue-in-cheek country tunes as well as heartbreaking ballads of love and loss. Each member sings lead to their original compositions and with voices highly unique to each other, the quartet expertly blends them into resonant four-part harmonies.
James Rossi is both one of the best fiddle players in the northwest as well as one of it's most distinctive voices. His booming bass register is unmistakable, and unforgettable. Andrew DeRossett's honed technical finesse and intuitive improvisational skills on guitar and tenor banjo effortlessly transition between the band's rhythmic backbone and front man flat-picker. Max Countryman-Skewes plays a furious Scruggs-style banjo and his compositions have pushed back on the traditional notions of bluegrass songwriting; his poetic lyrical style on morose topics give a distinctly "darker hue of bluegrass" feel to the band. Steve Eggers's soaring tenor voice captivates audiences with its unique timbre and his deeply expressive performances, as he picks, strums and plucks any instrument he can find on stage.
In May of 2018, the four members of Scratchdog Stringband organized the second annual Bridgetown Bluegrass Festival, hosting fifteen bands on two stages for a day of music and taking the lead in Portland at bringing the Bluegrass community together. Scratchdog's sound has been explored through tens of thousands of miles on the road and on stages shared with bands like Brothers Comatose, Eight Dollar Mountain, Cascade Crescendo, Alder Street and Yonder Mountain String Band, and is captured in their 2017 releases, the full length "Scratchdog Saloon” and EP "The Licklog Disputes."
The boys will continue their year-round tours of the Pacific Northwest, the United States and beyond, entertaining audiences and spreading the boot-stomping good times of the old school country ramblers, while maintaining and embellishing their tight-grooving, ear-catching melodic sensibility. Constantly finding new ways to incorporate their diverse musical experience and passion, Scratchdog Stringband's high-energy original tunes, songs and ballads are sure to please a wide spectrum of audiences with their intelligent lyrics and highly technical sound that is also upbeat, danceable, and approachable.