Meet the Musicians of
Roger Eilts, Leo Eilts & Garry Bury

3 TRAILS WEST was recognized by the Western Music Association as recipients of its 2011 Crescendo Award.  This award is given to the most promising performer or group of the past year.  Performers in their first three to five years of their careers that have demonstrated the greatest advancement in growth, skill & presentation are nominated by their peers in the spring of the year.  A vote is conducted in the fall.  Results are announced at organization’s Annual Awards Show and Showcase convention each November, in Albuquerque.   This year’s ceremony was held at the Historic KIMO Theater in the Old Town district. 

This was the second year for 3 TRAILS WEST to be nominated for this emerging artist award.  Past recipients include The Quebe Sisters Band (2007), Juni Fisher (2005) and Hot Club of Cowtown (2002). 

3 TRAILS WEST’s self entitled, debut CD was also nominated in 2011 for the WMA’s Traditional Western Album by a Group or Duo category.

Dynamic Duo - The Eilts Brothers
Roger and Leo Eilts were born and raised in central/western Kansas; south of Hays, in the Walnut Valley region of the state. The nearest place to buy records was the Gibson’s store in Great Bend, Kansas. From the Capitol and RCA Victor labels, these brothers learned the complex vocalizations that were an integral part of the Sons of the Pioneers repertoire. Night after night, an entire stack of Sons of the Pioneers vinyl was placed on the turntable and left to play out while they went to sleep. Almost by osmosis, these songs became a part of their collective memories.

Roger Eilts - Rhythm Guitar, Lead & Harmony Vocals
Roger Eilts graduated from college with a degree in the performing arts of Vocal Music. After moving to Kansas City, he and Leo joined forces with a mandolin player and eventually a drummer to form the Total Strangers. The band was wildly popular in local watering holes, drawing capacity crowds, weekend after weekend. It was in this band that Roger and Leo began to develop the on-stage repartee that became the hallmark of their tight, but wacky style. When the Total Strangers parted company in the mid-80’s, Roger and Leo hooked up with a fiddler and banjo/mandolin player to form Spontaneous Combustion. For 21 seasons, Spontaneous Combustion was a mainstay of the progressive bluegrass market. Playing mostly regional gigs, they did occasionally travel out of the Midwest, appearing at festivals in Kentucky and participating in the band contest at Telluride, where they took second place. Playing guitar and bass, respectively, Roger and Leo are primarily responsible for the rhythm section for 3 TRAILS WEST in addition to providing the tenor and baritone vocal harmonies.

Leo Eilts - Upright Bass, Harmony Vocals

After many years of traveling around the country, Leo Eilts settled in Kansas City, where he was introduced to bluegrass music. Beginning in 1993, he promoted a series of music festivals in the area. Having met the likes of the Dixie Chicks, Bela Fleck and Alison Krauss before they became the iconic musicians they are today, Leo was the first to introduce them to the Kansas City market. Along the way, he began to focus on the upright bass as his instrument of choice, and was the bassist for various bands and musicians before joining 3 TRAILS WEST. For several years, he was also involved in marketing Pro Tools, a multi-track Macintosh-based recording environment. Through his friendship with Bela Fleck, he had the privilege of selling him his first two recording systems. If you look at the small print on the “Acoustic Planet” albums, you’ll see his name included in the credits there. Since 1986, Leo has hosted the “Stage Six” campground at the Walnut Valley Music Festival in Winfield, KS. Entertainers such as Mark O’Connor, the Dixie Chicks, Nickel Creek, Beppe Gambetta, Stephen Bennett, Bill Barwick, Bob Mincer (formerly of the Sons of the Pioneers), Gary Cook (Bar D Wranglers) Hot Club of Cowtown, and many more too numerous to mention have spent time under the giant green and white striped tent that forms the center of this campsite.

Garry Bury - Lead Vocals
Native Kansan, Garry Bury has a great love of the Old West and the cow town heritage of his home state. As a childhood fan of the 1960’s TV Westerns, Garry says he “wants to be a Cowboy when he grows up”. In the meantime he’s content to sing about the western lifestyle. His musical style is influenced by country/western greats in the tradition of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, the Sons of the Pioneers and Hank Williams. As lead singer for the band, his rich baritone voice and handlebar mustache makes him a predominant feature of 3 TRAILS WEST.

All this information is courtesy of 3 TRAILS WEST and can be found on their website, along with more information.

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