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Q&A: Andy Dunnigan of The Lil Smokies

Montana bluegrass headed back to Bend this weekend

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With roots in traditional bluegrass, The Lil Smokies have blossomed into a leading player in progressive bluegrass circles. The quintet from Montana powers stellar songwriting and beautiful harmonies with the force of a rock band.



The Source spoke with singer-songwriter and dobro player Andy Dunnigan ahead of their Sunday show at The Domino Room in Bend.




Source Weekly: Where are you from in Montana? As a fellow Montanan, I have to ask.

Andy Dunnigan: The band is based out of Missoula, MT.  I’m the only one in the band born and raised in MT though - originally from Whitefish, MT.

SW: I spoke to Matthew at Sisters Folk Festival, and he mentioned that not everyone in the band is from or living in Montana. What is it like collaborating from different states? I’d imagine it’d be somewhat challenging.

AD: Yeah, it can be tricky if you let it be. Our time home now is so finite that we’ve found having the autonomy to do, go, and live wherever you chose makes the most sense. We spend so much time together throughout the year, it’s significantly important to be away from one another and hang out with non-musicians haha. That said, we get along fabulously. It’s a family in every aspect.

SW: How’d you all meet?

AD: Scott, Matt and I met in Missoula almost 10 years ago at a party playing music around a living room. We met Matt Reiger and Jake Simpson through the festival circuit when we began really touring full-time a couple years ago. We lost a few members and were incredibly serendipitous to have found such supreme musicians and world class humans.

SW: Speaking of Sisters Folk Festival — how was that experience for the band? Was it your first time playing the fest? I attended two of your sets, you guys killed it.

AD: Thanks! That was such a unique festival! Music and venues going on all throughout the town varying from grocery stores to bars. We had an absolute blast and there was no shortage of amazing talent and friends around.
SW: Who are some of musical influences?

AD: That’s a long list. Chet Atkins, James Taylor, Dylan, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Derek Trucks, Joe Pug, Dawes, Harry Nillson, Chris Thile, and the pop/rock explosion of the 1990’s had an enormous effect on me. It seems though that my attention has shifted from instrumental technicality to songwriters and words over time.

SW: What inspired the name of your band, The Lil Smokies?

AD: Think toothpicks and processed meat.

SW: After your show at The Domino Room — any idea of when will you be back in Bend?

AD: I’ve been hearing whispers of a spring run in Oregon around April. Not 100% on that though.  We’re never gone for that long. We absolutely adore Bend too, so have no fear… we’ll be back!

Catch The Lil Smokies this weekend at The Domino Room.

The Lil Smokies
Sunday, Nov. 4 at 8pm
The Domino Room
51 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend
$14/adv. on bendticket.com
All Ages

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