At the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival’s band contest last year, the Boulder Acoustic Society came in second place. Sure, they’d have preferred winning the whole shebang, but second’s not bad for a band that doesn’t play bluegrass.

“We are definitely not bluegrass,” emphatically states bass (and ukulele) player Aaron Keim. “We’re definitely not jazz either … or indie rock … or folk.”

What the Boulder boys are is one of the finest street corner conglomerations ever thrown together. Their lineup includes Keim on bass, Brad Jones on guitar, Scott McCormick on accordion and vocals, Kailin Young on fiddle, and Scott Aller on an assortment of percussion instruments that includes an anklet of abalone shells and a washboard.

“I’m sanding a ukulele as we speak,” says Keim, on the phone from Colorado. He developed a passion for traditional instruments while working at a folk music store during college and decided to create the perfect banjo-ukulele hybrid. He eventually developed The Bean Sprout, a company that specializes in handmade, high-end banjo-ukes.

Although they have composed one piece for five of the little four-stringers, they avoid letting the instrument become a novelty. Their performances normally jump between orchestrated, tight pieces (they won the Independent Music Association’s 2007 Song of the Year for “Doesn’t Really Matter” on their most recent release, Now), and goofy tracks like the irreverent “If You See Kay (Tell Her I Miss Her).”

What’s special about BAS is the ease with which they morph between an I’m-kind-of-drunk party band into a fiddle-laden, multi-genre performance act that you’d expect to see in a sit-down theater.

“Our goal is just to write something that people will remember,” says Keim. “It all gets rolled into one product, and there tends to be something that resonates with every kind of music fan that comes to see us.” —Stratton Lawrence

BAS share the stage with Jeff & Vida at the Map Room at 7 p.m. on Tues. Jan. 29. Admission is $5. Check out more at and