Sound studio

The Lil Smokies bring the bluegrass sound to VPAC

The Lil Smokies reinvent their approach to roots music on their third and final album, “Tortillo.”
Vilar Performing Arts Center / Courtesy Photo

Before the Lil Smokies were recording albums and playing 160 gigs a year, the group formed in 2009 during their years at the University of Montana at Missoula. At their first gig, they told the person introducing them that they didn’t have a name. This man then gave a “cheers” with a bit of smokie on his toothpick and said, “To the Little Smokies”. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The band won the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass Band competition and the 2016 IMBA Momentum Band of the Year award while building a loyal and energetic following over the years, including in the Vail Valley when they performed at the WinterWonderGrass Festival.

The Lil Smokies make their highly anticipated return to Eagle County when they perform at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 15 at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. Tickets are $28. Visit for tickets and more information.

“The last time we had The Lil Smokies was in February 2020, just before the pandemic started,” VPAC executive director Owen Hutchinson said. “They brought such talent, energy and joy to the theater that we knew when the opportunity arose again, we had to bring them back to our stage. The positivity they bring to their audience runs deep.

Drawing on the energy of a rock band and the songwriting of 1970s Laurel Canyon, The Lil Smokies reinvent their approach to roots music on “Tornillo,” named after the remote Texas town where the album was recorded. “Tornillo”, produced by Bill Reynolds (The Avett Brothers, Band of Horses), is the band’s third studio album.

Opening for The Lil Smokies at VPAC will be Esther Rose, an American country musician from New Orleans.