Interview: The Sawtooth Brothers

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“We didn’t see anyone in the scene here doing exactly what we were doing; there were folk grass bands and jam grass bands and traditional bluegrass bands,” says Luke Birtzer of Twin Cities-based bluegrass outfit The Sawtooth Brothers. “We felt like we had something different to offer.”

Comprised of a tight-knit group of two sets of bluegrass award-winning siblings, Luke and Clint Birtzer and Ethan and Jesse Moravec, this band definitely has something different to offer. Bluegrass can be an intimidating genre of music for the uninitiated, but The Sawtooth Brothers have managed to make it accessible and relatable with their recently-released album, One More Flight. “We’ve definitely got pop influences in our music; we changed our name a few years back from Sawtooth Bluegrass to Sawtooth Brothers, we wanted people to come to the music with an open mind,” Luke explains. “People have their own connotations about bluegrass music, sometimes it’s negative, sometimes they think they know exactly what it will sound like. We think our music is broader than that. The outskirts of our music is bluegrass—we formed as a bluegrass band, but in the last couple of years, we decided to incorporate the ideas of all of the other kinds of music that like into the bluegrass instrumentation.”

The brothers also faced a challenge when their banjo player left the group; “Continuing on without a banjo player in the bluegrass world was interesting,” Luke says with a laugh. “People were kind of freaked out that we didn’t have a banjo player. Once we released the album, nobody who’s heard it says it needs a banjo.”

Currently, the brothers are playing regional shows and festivals, so if you’re enjoying the summer in the soon-to-be Great White North, be sure to catch The Sawtooth Brothers’ live show.

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Susan Hubbard

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