By: Sawyer Smith
An Interview with Dante from The Pickpockets
When asked how he would describe his band, The Pickpockets, Dante Giacobassi told me they would best fit into the genre of ‘funky bluegrass’. “We also play some more island vibe, reggae stuff. We really do several genres. Bluegrass traditionally means there are only string instruments.”
This is important to keep in mind, if you’re one of the lucky adventurers signed up to travel down the Yampa River with Dante and the rest of the band in late June. Because traditional bluegrass music doesn’t rely on amps or electrical instruments, it’s the perfect accompaniment for a river rafting trip. As Dante put it, “It’s fun to get back to the roots of bluegrass and play under the stars with nothing but your acoustics and your own instrument.”
A Match Made in Bluegrass Heaven
Similar to all the other trip facilitators I’ve interviewed, Dante had nothing but good things to say about Holiday River Expeditions and the trips his band has been able to attend over the last two years. I asked Dante how he got involved with HRE, and he explained that he was introduced to the group leaders through some mutual friends, and when someone floated the idea that The Pickpockets should sign on for one of the trips, they were thrilled.
“Hell yeah, we’d love to do a river trip,” was how Dante described his reaction. “Some of us have a big connection and history to the outdoors, others it was our first river trip.” Flash forward two years later, and Dante informs me that they have plans to be a part of at least one river trip with HRE every summer, perhaps visiting a different river every year. “The Band sort of wanted to just slowly chip away and do all the rivers and sections that Holiday offers.”
This year, they’re tackling the notoriously wild and stunning Yampa River in Colorado, and for those wondering what a week on the water rafting alongside The Pickpockets is all about, Dante summed it up for me quite well.
Guests of the Yampa River trip “can expect to enter a world of an artist’s music. Not only their performance of the songs but their creative process. The perk of one of these trips is you get to know the band—learn about why they are drawn to music the way they are. Possibly the background on some songs that maybe [you’ll] hear later.”
You’ll get a deeper appreciation for the music, but also for the wild surroundings in which you are experiencing it. “To use natural acoustics, to find cave and cliff walls—it’s incredible the sound difference it can make. That’s something very unique to these river trips.”
How Can You See The Pickpockets
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘how do I get signed up for this trip’ you aren’t alone. The more Dante talked to me about the kind of experience he and his bandmates hoped to provide to guests, I found myself going to the HRE website and seeing whether or not I’d be able to book a seat.
Unfortunately, the trip is currently full. That said, if you’re dying to attend, check back for last minute cancellations. Or mark your calendars for next fall, when trips for Summer 2025 open up!
Can’t wait that long? Me neither. Which is why I have some good news for you. Even if you aren’t able to attend their trip this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the music. The Pickpockets recently released their first full-length, all original album, Beyond the Hills.
Click the link. No, seriously, do it. You won’t regret it. Then—if you like what you hear—go see Dante, Jake, David, Alec and Aiden at their next Salt Lake City show. They’re playing live on February 14th, at The Commonwealth Room, opening for another bluegrass band, The Kitchen Dwellers.
Parting Words with Dante
Aside from the rafting adventures and natural acoustics, Dante also really appreciates the type of serenity that can only be found when one is out in nature. Reminiscing about his first river rafting trip, he said “it was one of the most peaceful experiences that I think you can enjoy in this life. Immediately I just fell in love with it. Something about being totally unconnected—the only reason you need your phone is for photos.”
He laughed and I smiled, thinking about the last time I camped and how nice it was when I didn’t even notice my phone had died.
“You don’t even need your alarm,” he went on. “Because the guides are going to do their cute little coffee yell.”
Unplugging doesn’t take anything away from you in Dante’s eyes. Instead, it shows you how much you already have. “Leaves you with your conversations, the music, and the nature around you… You realize that’s all you need and all you really wanted.”
Sawyer Smith is a Utah native currently residing in St. Louis, Missouri. When she isn’t working as a freelance writer or hiking through sections of the Mark Twain National Forest, she is planning trips in her head back to her beloved state to once again climb on the red rocks and ski down the snowy mountains.