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Bluegrass band from qathet featured in major magazine

Musicians in their happy place when playing together
CANADIAN BLUEGRASS: Bluegrass band Scout Mountain was recently featured in Bluegrass Canada magazine. The band has been practicing and playing together in qathet since 2009 and recently released a music video. [From left] Bill Smith, Monica Behan, Murray Smith, Max Pagani and Steve Kulusic regularly take the stage at Powell River Farmers’ Market.

Traditional bluegrass band Scout Mountain has made a name for itself in the qathet community, and now, the five-piece band has been featured in Bluegrass Canada magazine.

Band leader Bill Smith and husband and wife team Max Pagani and Monica Behan have played together for 14 years; Murray Smith, Bill's brother, joined later on, and Steve Kulusic is the newest member of the band. The hardworking musicians practice every week in Max and Monica's studio at the base of Scout Mountain in the Wildwood neighbourhood.

"For us, it's just about harmonies and the chance to sing and laugh and play and have fun together, and that's the way the community is," said Bill. "Last year, we brought three or four other bands and played at the Legion, so it was a great chance to get all those bands from all around the province together."

The bluegrass scene in the qathet region is small. Scout Mountain may be the only local bluegrass band playing to audiences, although its members would like to see more people interested. 

"If you get to a festival or say, Vancouver or Victoria, they have big bluegrass associations and they do have those jams once a month," said Bill. "You can go down and sit down with anybody and play. It's a very welcoming thing, which I find different from most other genres. Bluegrass is all about getting together with other people."

Bill said the band hopes that by playing bluegrass in town, the word will spread a little bit and get more people interested in the music and maybe even start playing. The band writes some of their own songs but also plays other musicians’ songs that they like.

"We'll find songs from anywhere," said Bill. "We keep trying to get better and better with our instruments, and picking really great songs."

The band has been recording original tunes at High Road Recording studio on Texada Island, and recently recorded and shot a music video of a Steve Brockley song called “Letter”.

To play bluegrass is to play for the love of music and friendship, and not necessarily to make money. Although the band has played at blues and roots festivals on Texada and around BC, touring takes time and involves costs, so Bill considers Scout Mountain a regional band.

"Everybody, until now, was working, so it's hard to get that kind of time away from family and jobs," said Bill. 

That may be true, but the band is still busy recording and preparing for the next show. In February, Scout Mountain will play at Gillies Bay Community Hall, then later in the year, perform during Sunshine Music Festival at Palm Beach.  

"We get along fabulously well, otherwise, it's not worth doing it," said Bill. "Most of our practices are just full of laughter and teasing each other, and having too much fun." 

Scout Mountain has been around for 15 years, so something must be working, said Bill.

Bill said he loves the sound of the banjo, which he plays, with Behan on fiddle, Pagani playing mandolin, Murray on bass and Kulusic playing guitar. 

"We love singing harmonies together," added Bill. 

For a Scout Mountain live performance, the musicians dress their best and play together with one mic on stage. 

"Our audience is a real mix and getting younger now, but an older demographic as well," said Bill."'They are people who love music."

To read a feature story about Scout Mountain in Bluegrass Canada magazine online, go to and search the January 2024 issue (page 30).

To watch the band’s latest music video, go to YouTube and search: Scout Mountain Letter.

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