A condor is an extreme rarity in golf, where the golfer makes a hole in one on a par 5. There have only been 4 recorded and accepted in golfing history. The California Condor is the California state bird, and also one of the rarest of all bird species. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota string-band Condor is one of the rarest trios playing “bluegrass” today. With only a Cellist, Guitarist, and Banjoist, they decided to move away from calling themselves bluegrass at all, and are now pioneers in a new genre of music—Creamgrass. It will still get people on their feet and dancing, but you will find more complex chord progressions and movements that enrich the common bluegrass sound and warrant the new genre.
Most bands have distinct roles often filled by one distinct member. There is the frontman, the songwriter, the virtuoso musician, the one with the good looks, and the placeholders (sorry drummers). With Condor these roles become indecipherable. Each member contributes their personal songs; each member is a multi-instrumentalist whose musical capacities amplify and ornament the songwriters piece; each member looks good…well, for the most part; and they don’t have a placeholder drummer to worry about!
While on stage, the band takes on an almost comical approach, often dressing in smocks or outlandish shirts and hats. They take turns bantering with the audience, cracking cheesy jokes, or using their brand of self-mockery and flamboyant, over-animated joy to bring out the smiles in the crowd. Condor has stated that their relationship with their audiences is crucial, and that one of their primary goals is to bring happiness to others. In fact, if you go to a Condor show be sure to check out their unique and whimsical merchandise display where you can actually buy “happiness” (which is really just their merchandise with a clever name).
Condor has played multiple years at the Sioux River Folk Festival, both as Condor, and as a part of Dakota Roots Revival--a regional super-group. They have recorded three times on the Emmy Award nominated TV show “White Wall Sessions”, a show featuring national and regional bands. During the spring of 2015, Condor released their debut album, Poega, and toured through the midwest the Pacific Northwest. They have been photographed and featured on the front page of the Argus Leader, Sioux Falls’ primary newspaper. They have also been invited multiple times to play at the Downtown Sioux Falls Block Parties and other city hosted events.
Forming in 2011, Condor was just a duo, with Andy Shaw on guitar and Connor Pederson on Cello. Mateo Sandoval joined with his banjo during the brutal winter of 2013. Other instruments you may find on stage include the harmonica, mandolin, lap steel guitar, and the rhythmic bones, though I hear the bones sightings are rarer than the condor itself.