There’s really only one place to be in Jackson Hole on a Tuesday evening: front and center of the well-worn dance floor at The Silver Dollar Bar for Bluegrass night. The longest running band in residency here, One Ton Pig, will have you stomping, head bumping, or full-on country western two-stepping with the first notes of singer-songwriter Michael Batdorf’s guitar.
After over eleven years of the weekly gig, it’s no wonder the bar inside The Wort Hotel is packed at 7:30pm by locals and visitors alike year round — these guys know how to have a good time. As I worm my way up through the crowd during a set break, I’m surrounded by cowboy boots, fancy dress boots, sneakers, even ski boots, and a contagious energy that immediately smacks a smile on my face. Bits of conversations hang in the air; locals pumped about getting a ski run in before work, a mother and son banter over their bumpy plane ride in, two old friends catch each other’s eye and run up in giggles to hug.
While the night is called Bluegrass night, the small stage is cluttered with reverb and distortion pedals, and One Ton Pig is known to play straight-up bluegrass to blues to funk and everything in between. In other words, if you don’t like the first song (said no one ever), stick around. In fact, the gig has become so popular that about four years ago the bar expanded to double in size specifically to hold the Tuesday night crowd. The renovation is a beautiful one — the new bar is a mirror of the original bar, hundreds of silver dollars making up the long countertops and the same cozy and country feel throughout.
A few minutes later, the band members start to gather back on the stage, tuning guitars, swigging the rest of their beers. At first glance, One Ton Pig looks like a band made for a ski town — baseball caps, mustaches, rough stubble beards. But the moment they let their instruments loose, everyone in the bar is instantly transported to Nashville; these are six incredibly talented musicians, and Jackson Hole hit the jackpot to have them end up here.
“For all you old timers,” Michael yells out from the stage. “Here’s one from out of the dust bowl…” With that, they kick off into high gear, the crowd jumping into dance positions to keep up with them. An older couple who drove in from their (real) dude ranch glide across the floor in perfect form, swinging and twirling between millennials mixing country and pop dance styles. By the time the fiddler and mandolin player tag team a solo to a railroad blurring bluegrass beat, the entire bar is on its feet, and the dance floor only clearing long enough to grab a quick shot of whiskey between songs. Conversations turn to whistles and hollers for more and more music, and with that I’ve got to take my puffy coat off and dive in. Luckily, we’ve still got a nice long set ahead of us — this town doesn’t sleep on Tuesdays because the band plays all night.
Find more about One Ton Pig at www.onetonpig.com
For more info on happenings at the Silver Dollar Bar go to www.worthotel.com/silver-dollar-bar/live-music-in-jackson-hole/