Brier native Nick Dumas is a member of the Special Consensus, a band with a Grammy nomination for best bluegrass album of the year. (The Special Consensus)

Brier native Nick Dumas is a member of the Special Consensus, a band with a Grammy nomination for best bluegrass album of the year. (The Special Consensus)

Brier native receives Grammy nod for bluegrass band’s album

On the best bluegrass record list is Special Consensus, whose mandolin player is our own Nick Dumas.

By Gale Fiege / Special to the Herald

By now, regional music lovers know the Grammy award nominees include Brandi Carlile, the late Chris Cornell, Alice In Chains and the Seattle Symphony.

Read down the list of nominees, however, and another Northwest name emerges.

Mandolinist Nick Dumas, who grew up in south Snohomish County, is a member of the Special Consensus, a band nominated for Best Bluegrass Album of the year for its recording “Rivers And Roads.”

“The Grammy nomination is incredibly exciting,” Dumas said in a phone conversation Monday from his new home in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. “The rest of the band is ecstatic, too.”

Dumas, 28, grew up in Brier and made a name for himself in the regional bluegrass bands Three Generations, Northern Departure and North Country Bluegrass. He joined the nationally known Special Consensus in 2015. Other members of the band include founder Greg Cahill on banjo, bassist Dan Eubanks and guitarist Rick Faris.

Special Consensus had its start in 1975 at the height of a bluegrass revival.

“I knew there was a bluegrass revival in the 1970s, because that’s when the festival in Darrington got started,” Dumas said. “But we’re in the midst of another revival now, and I was so incredibly honored to be asked to be part of Special C. By including young players, Greg Cahill is making sure we keep the bluegrass tradition alive.”

Dumas makes it home to Snohomish County when he can. The Special Consensus headlined the Darrington Bluegrass Festival in 2017. More recently, Dumas and his former North Country bandmate Chris Luquette performed twice this year at the Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater in Snohomish.

The Special C, as Dumas calls the quartet, was nominated for a Grammy a few years ago for its album “Scratch Gravel Road.” The new album — “Rivers And Roads” — includes songs about life’s journey, Dumas said, and is a hat tip to the late Grammy award-winning songwriter John Hartford.

“We finished the tracks in January, and our label, Compass Records, released it March 30. It’s been doin’ well on the charts,” Dumas said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought as a kid that I’d one day be going to the Grammy awards ceremony. I can’t believe it’s actually happening.”

Local fan Beckye Randall, of the Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville, is a believer. She’s known Dumas since 2010 when he auditioned for a spot in a local Hometown Hootenanny she was running.

“Nick displays a passion and a quest for musical excellence that is extraordinary at any age, but was especially remarkable in the young man I met eight years ago,” Randall said. “His talent, dedication and genuinely decent disposition guarantee that he will go far, while staying down to earth.”

Dumas lives in Wisconsin because of the relative proximity to Chicago, where his band is based. It’s also where his fiance and fellow musician Hana Rass is from. They met on his first tour with the band.

“I am so blessed,” Dumas said. “The wedding is set for next July. It’s been a crazy, busy year, so it’s nice to have some time off right now with Hana.”

In the new year, the Special Consensus has a show in Chicago, heads to a bluegrass festival in Bismarck, North Dakota, and then is on tour in Ireland and England before flying from there to Los Angeles to attend the Grammy awards on Feb. 10.

“Our section of the awards won’t be televised. I think they happen earlier that day,” Dumas said. “That’s OK.”

Dumas grew up across the street from his maternal grandfather, the dobro and pedal steel guitarist Harold Christensen.

“Grandpa had a country gospel and bluegrass band, and I was inspired by the fiddle player,” Dumas said. “My parents then surprised me with a violin, and I started taking classical lessons at Brier Elementary School. I also took some fiddle lessons and started playing around on my aunt’s mandolin. I play the guitar and have picked up the banjo, too, but over time mandolin has become my main instrument.

“I would not be anywhere near where I am today without the influence of my grandpa.”

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