Most people wouldn’t expect a spiky-haired punk rocker to become a cowboy-hat-wearing country musician, but musician Forest Beutel, who plays at The Blu Pig on June 8 and 9, doesn’t think the shift is so extraordinary.
“Both genres are three-chord songs that are fast, and I sing a lot about just kinda normal, everyday stuff,” Beutel said of performing both punk and now country bluegrass music. “I really feel like punk is a current form of folk music, and bluegrass is not that far off.”
Beutel grew up in Rhode Island. He played the drums in punk bands on the East Coast in his teens and early 20s. When he felt like traveling, he was drawn to the Northwest.
“I was just looking for change,” he said, so he packed up and moved 3,000 miles to Washington.
“When I moved from Providence (Rhode Island), to Tacoma (Washington), I drove across the country in my tiny little Toyota Camry,” Beutel recalled. “And I couldn’t fit my drums into the Toyota, but my grandfather gave me his banjo … I tossed that in the car, and that ended up just being my musical outlet.”
Beutel admits that he once scoffed at country music, but he was won over listening to Hank Williams. He began to appreciate country music and absorbing it into his own style of music. Hank Williams III, the grandson of the famous original Hank Williams, is another inspiration for Beutel.
“He really does the crossover,” Beutel said of Williams III. “He does metal, and country — those are his things.”
Though it was a hard transition from drums to banjo, Beutel developed his skills and began performing on his new instrument. He’s been playing in bluegrass bands for the past 10 years, and has been a full-time musician for three years. He also performs as a “one-man band,” playing harmonica, banjo and kick drum, and delivering gravelly vocals that recall his punk-rock roots, but fit seamlessly with his fast-paced strumming and bluesy lyrics.
Beutel goes on tour several times a year, and this will be his first performance in Moab. He will appear at The Blu Pig on Friday, June 8, and Saturday, June 9, and perform at the Blu Bar with no cover charge.
The venue has a blues theme, but they take a broad definition of that genre.
“We do get a wide range in here, everything from blues music to kind of folk Americana,” said Jake Tanner, who books music for The Blu Pig’s Blu Bar. “Maybe a little bit of country blues, even some bluegrass stuff we’ve had… Obviously, anytime we can get blues musicians in here we go out of our way to try to do that. [Beutel], I think, falls into that category.”
Though he’s never performed here, Beutel has visited Moab once before, and he enjoyed camping and hiking in the area. However, The Blu Pig offers accommodation to traveling artists, and will be hosting Beutel during his stay.
“When a hotel room in Moab nowadays is anywhere from $200 and up, that’s always a big challenge with traveling musicians,” Tanner said. “A lot of them have to come up with lodging in Moab and we all know how that’s going.”
Eliminating the cost and logistics of accommodation is an incentive for musicians to make Moab a music show destination.
Beutel is looking forward to revisiting and putting on a show.
“I’m excited to get to be back and entertain all the good folks in Moab,” Beutel said.
Star of one-man music show plays banjo and harmonica on June 8 and 9
Where: The Blu Pig, 811 S. Main St.
When: Friday, June 8, and Saturday, June 9, at 7 p.m.
More info: Visit forestmarekbeutel.com or blupigbbq.com
“I really feel like punk is a current form of folk music, and bluegrass is not that far off.”