FREIYA: Women of Bluegrass is a magical Ullr-style collaboration among four of the finest female bluegrass musicians in Colorado. KC Groves leads the quartet on bass, Erin Peet Lukes on Guitar, Natalie Padilla on Fiddle and Bonnie Sims on mandolin.
When K.C. Groves was a young musician she was mentored by bluegrass and acoustic music greats such as Sally Van Meter, Charles Sawtelle and Laurie Lewis. She has since become a driving force in her own right, passing on that spark and pure joy of playing music. A multi-faceted musician, spirited bandleader and inspiring mentor, K.C.’s energy, tenacity, and creativity seem to be boundless. But she’s simply, “paying it forward,” as she puts it, answering the call to keep the music she loves a living experience.
An accomplished instrumentalist (mandolin, guitar, bass), vocalist and songwriter, K.C. Groves has been at the heart of many celebrated projects. As the creative center and bandleader of Uncle Earl for over a decade, K.C. helped bring old time music to a wider audience. The "g’Earls" played major festival stages in the United States and toured extensively abroad, gaining fans and musical cohorts such as Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones, who produced their 2007 album Waterloo, Tennessee. In addition to Uncle Earl, K.C. has released two solo albums of original material, and was a Telluride Troubadour contest finalist and a Detroit Music Award winner. She has teamed up with countless notable musicians, including old time musician and craftsman Riley Baugus and Leftover Salmon’s Vince Herman.
K.C.’s home base in the seemingly sleepy town of Lyons in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies is home to Planet Bluegrass, the hallowed grounds that play host to RockyGrass and Folks Fest, and serves as a creative nexus for Front Range bluegrass and acoustic musicians. Along with founding the successful High Street Concert series in Lyons, K.C. has spearheaded the weekly bluegrass jam at Oskar Blues, one of the largest and longest running weekly jam in Colorado.
EPL started writing music as a teenager in Redondo Beach, California. She recorded her first EP of original songs at 14. She burned the EP to blank discs, decorated them and gave them out at school. This would set her up for a lifetime of writing a recording.
During her college years, Erinn performed at countless open mics in LA, Seattle, and New York City. She also started street performing, getting dollars for her ability to project her clear voice over the sounds of the city.
She moved to Colorado in 2013, where she formed her bluegrass band Thunder and Rain https://thunderandrainmusic.com/
She's toured the US as well as Ireland and Canada with her band. Her writing credits are on almost all of the songs on the 2 full length studio albums TnR has released in the past 5 years.
In the winter of 2018, EPL started recording her first solo EP with John McVey at Cinder Sound Studios in Boulder, CO. She also became a finalist at the 2018 Kerrville New Folk Competition in Kerrville, TX. She plans on releasing her Ep, Take Back Your Angels, in the fall of 2018.
Bonnie Sims began singing as soon as she could walk, and has been at home onstage nearly as long. Her father, Mike Cruciger, is a banjo player, songwriter and career musician, and gave Bonnie her first Martin guitar at age twelve. She picked up the mandolin at fourteen and toured for the next five years with her father, playing in and around Texas.
She then attended South Plains College where she earned a double major in Mandolin and Vocals as well as Best Female Vocalist in 2006 and 2007 and Best Female Instrumentalist in 2007.
In 2010, after moving to Colorado, Bonnie continued her life-long pursuit of singing and making music by starting Bonnie & the Clydes.
Born into a family of acclaimed roots musicians, Natalie Padilla was immersed in fiddle and violin music at a very young age. She has grown into a musician of astounding depth and breadth, as well as a performer and educator fluent in a wide variety of genres.
Natalie initially studied Texas-Style fiddle under the tutelage of her mother, award-winning fiddler Nancy Padilla, and began winning contests on her own at the age of 6. She was named Montana State Pee Wee Fiddle Champion and soon went on to become National Small Fry Fiddle Champion at the National Old Time Fiddler’s Contest (1994), National Young Adult Fiddle Champion (2015), National Twin Fiddling Champion (2015), Rocky Mountain Regional Grand Champion (2015), and RockyGrass Fiddle Champion (2015).
Steeped in the traditions of Old-Time, Bluegrass, and Texas-Style Fiddle music, Natalie also has deep roots in classical violin. In 2011, after winning several prestigious student awards, she graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Northern Colorado.
Natalie has continued to explore her love of classical music and has performed with the National Repertory Orchestra, Breckenridge Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival, Colorado Bach Ensemble, Boulder Philharmonic, Fort Collins Symphony and Sphere Ensemble. She currently serves as Associate Concertmaster of the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra.
Building on her Old-Time roots and her rich background in classical music, Natalie has devoted herself to creative roots music in recent years.
In 2015 she founded the original new acoustic band Masontown and has since been composing and singing for the group, as well as playing fiddle and clawhammer banjo. Masontown has played extensively throughout the mountain west, released a debut EP in late 2015, and took runner up at the acclaimed RockyGrass band competition in the summer of 2016.
Natalie has also performed in every setting from intimate house concerts to Red Rocks Amphitheater, touching on nearly every form of fiddle music imaginable. She has recorded in a variety of settings around the country, and shared the stage with such revered talents as Peter Rowan, Frank Solivan, and Pete Wernick.
Throughout her deep and diverse musical career Natalie has always been a devoted educator, and has maintained an active studio of private fiddle and violin students since her early teens. She has also been in demand at fiddle and violin camps around the country, teaching for several years at the Montana Fiddle Camp, Fiddle and Flute Weekend Getaway, Brian Wicklund’s Fiddle Pal Camp, and Midsummer Days String Camp, among others.
While living in Summit County, Colorado Natalie also taught private lessons and conducted high school and middle school orchestras through the public school system.
While Natalie spends almost every waking moment honing her art, craft, and musical pedagogy, there’s a chance you can catch her out and about in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, running or skiing, or at home on an off night, cooking something new and inspiring…while listening to amazing music, of course!