Rapidgrass embodies the notion that nature, and particularly mountains, can bring out the best in our art, and we have dedicated much of our creative energy into bringing that art back to the people of the mountains. Rapidgrass focuses on travel to mountain towns and inspires mountain people and athletes around the globe. Our music is motivated by and made for those who find peace in the mountains. We focus our energy to outdoor mountain lifestyle/culture events. Focusing our travels to mountain towns has also given us a great palate of mountain music styles to draw from including styles from North America, France, Italy, Russia, Tibet, Argentina, and Ireland.
The lineup includes Mark Morris (guitar, lead vocals); Coleman Smith (violin); Charlie Parker Mertens (upright bass); and Alex Johnstone (mandolin, vocals); Billy Cardine (dobro, recording producer). This Colorado ensemble uses classical, gypsy, bluegrass, pop, swing, and other world rhythms to create what is, and can only be described of as, Rapidgrass.
The band released 'RAPIDGRASS QUINTET', in 2013 and was voted as one ofthe top 5 albums by the Mountain Arts Culture Colorado. In 2015 they then released 'CROOKED ROAD' and went on to win the prestigious ROCKYGRASS band contest that same year. Rapidgrass produced their 3rd album, 'HAPPY TRAILS' in 2017 and was released at the eighth annual Rapidgrass Music Festival June 23-25 2017. The band is currently finishing their 4th studio album 'GYPSY CATTLE DRIVE' and 1st live album, both recorded in Chamonix, France August 2018. Rapidgrass has had the pleasure of playing mountain music throughout Colorado, Alaska, the lower 48, Ireland, Hungary, Scotland, Poland, and the European Alps. The band is eager to share new music with you!
- Happy Trails!
5th generation Colorado Native, Mark Morris began playing guitar when he was 10 years old. He graduated from the University of Colorado in the fall of 2007 with a degree in music business and has been a professional touring musician/promoter/teacher/athlete since. His music and skiing has taken him across the world throughout US, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Central America, teaching camps, and workshops. Mark co-founded Rapidgrass festival in 2009 with Sister Sarah, Rapids & Grass festival in 2014, and Rapidgrass band in 2012. When Mark is not performing music or skiing the big mountains he works full time as a music promoter and talent buyer for multiple festivals and events. Mark also books, manages, and directs Rapidgrass Band, and is been the US ambassador of bluegrass at La Roche Bluegrass festival since 2016. In 2015 Mark developed an international band exchange where winner of the La Roche Bluegrass Festival band contest is invited to play at Rapidgrass Festival, in his home town of Idaho Springs, CO. Mark also spends his winter as a professional sponsored athlete for Icelantic Skis, SCARPA, Discrete Clothing, Flylow Gear and Rab USA. Mark has been featured in POWDER magazine, Warren Miller Entertainment, Outside Magazine, Trail Runner Magazine, and Freeskier Magazine for combining music and skiing. Mark and Sarah were also nominated for the WRIGHT Award (presented by Colorado governor John Hickenloooer), in 2016. Mark has shared jams and stages with Chris Thile, Dierks Bentley, Mike Marshal, Sam Bush, Darol Anger, Edgar Meyer, Noam Pikelny, Sam Bush, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Rob Ickes, David Grier, and many others, visit his personal website HERE
Coleman started playing the violin at 3 years old. In his youth Coleman traveled across the country studying various styles of fiddle music and competing in some of the nation's most prestigious fiddle contests. Coleman was awarded a Presidential scholarship to the music department at Marywood University where he studied music performance and minored in music pedagogy. Coleman has a unique style that fuses Gypsy Swing, Jazz, Celtic, Bluegrass and Texas Fiddle, all from a classical perspective. Currently, Coleman travels the world, including an annual tour with Rapidgrass throughout Europe where he both performs and leads workshops for Europe’s largest bluegrass festival. When Coleman is not performing with Rapidgrass he is either teaching at his music school Coletrain Music Academy, performing with his side project, Gypsy Cattle Drive, or guest appearing with a wide variety of popular bands including but not limited to The Drew Emmit Band, David Grisman, Billy Cardine, Jeff Austin Band, Peter Rowan, Pete Wernick, and Pheobe Hunt & The Gatherers. [READ MORE]
Alex Johnstone has spent the last many years touring around bars, bluegrass festivals, and kids music camps all over America and Canada as a member of the Colorado based bluegrass band Spring Creek. He started his musical life as teenager playing electric rock and blues guitar and took up the mandolin and fiddle in his early twenties. Alex started playing out professionally while ski bumming in Crested Butte Colorado and also where he met the other members of Spring Creek. He followed the band out to South Plains College in Levelland Texas where he studied music with renowned pickers Alan Mundy and Joe Carr. Alex currently makes his home in Buena Vista, Colorado and enjoys making music, skiing, and fly fishing.
Telluride native, Charles Parker Mertens is a multi-genre bassist, cellist, and producer. He has performed with Thievery Corporation, Les Nubians, and Cyril Neville and can be seen playing with Swing Fiddle Champion Katie Glassman, as well as Tony Furtado, Fox St. Allstars, Analog Son, and many, many more. Charles loves to try and be authentic and aware of cultural nuance in any style that he is playing. www.charlesparkermertens.com
ADJUNCT MEMBER - (Billy plays with Rapidgrass as often as he can but is not a full time member)
Adjunct member includes - Billy Cardine, a genre-blurring composer, slide guitarist, multi - instrumentalist who currently performs with a variety of bands and is an active session musician and producer. He has been featured on, BBC World's Destination Music, the PBS Roadtrip Nation, the new Jerry Douglas Production “Southern Filibuster”, The History Channel's Our Generation, andat The Ryman Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Bonnaroo and NPR's Mountain Stage. Billy also recorded and produced Rapidgrass' 4th studio album 'Happy Trails'