’Grass Tacks

Mandolin player Jeff Scroggins and violinist Alisa Rose each have their own Grammy-nominated careers, and as a duo regularly compose together.

Even though his dad is Jeff Scroggins, a two-time National Banjo Champion, it wasn’t obvious that Tristan Scroggins would become a musician.

“My mom wanted me to play football,” he says. But he picked up the banjo instead at age 8 and soon switched to mandolin, since “banjo didn’t make any sense.” By 13, Scroggins junior was already a music sensation, touring the country with his dad’s band.

Alisa Rose – the female half of the music duo Scroggins & Rose that performs in Sand City’s SandBox on Thursday, Jan. 26 – is also from a family of musicians. “My sisters played the violin and I used to watch them practicing.” Per her own request, she started to practice violin herself when she was only 3 years old.

Scroggins was raised in Colorado and New Mexico, and since 2018 has lived in Nashville. Rose is originally from Wisconsin, but now lives and works in San Francisco. They met in Canada when teaching during a bluegrass camp for adults.

It’s been 10 years since, and they still find themselves enjoying working together. They have two albums recorded so far – Grana in 2017 and Curios in 2020, an instrumental record that mixes American bluegrass with Spanish and Jewish rhythms

“We have a nice musical chemistry,” Rose says. ““The process of writing is very collaborative.”

The music they create oscillates between classical and bluegrass, and Scroggins and Rose are both active composers. It’s inventive and changeable, always in a dialogue between violin and mandolin, and between bluegrass and classical and even funk and jazz.

Sharing their influences, he mentions Béla Fleck and Sam Bush. Among her “wide and different favorites,” Rose identifies San Francisco-based Darol Anger and bluegrass multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan.

Rose is especially looking forward to performing “Calabacitas” from the most recent album, “because of the energy and the space for improvisation,” she says of the lively track. Scroggins leans toward the slower tune “The French Cowboy.” “It’s dramatically expressive,” he says, “and full of nontraditional textures and sounds.”

SCROGGINS & ROSE perform at 7pm Thursday, Jan. 26. SandBox, 440 Ortiz Ave., Sand City. $35. sandboxsandcity.com

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