The Salty Suites, Scott Gates, left, Chuck Hailes and Chelsea Williams, is on tour in support of its self-titled debut album and follow-up live release.


It's not crazy to see members of the roots band the Salty Suites busking on the streets of Santa Cruz, Laguna and Venice Beach in their downtime.

When they aren't on tour, playing venues such as Abounding Grace Sanctuary on Saturday, the acoustic trio can be found in different spots along the California coast performing traditional Americana for tourists and locals alike.

It's less about the money and more about the audience.

"Santa Cruz is my favorite," said Scott Gates, the 20-year-old mandolin player for the group. "They've had to deal with deteriorating hobos playing Grateful Dead tunes for years. They want something new, something different."

The band, made up of Gates, Chelsea Williams on guitar and Chuck Hailes on bass, specializes in mostly new material, with elements of traditional acoustic fare infused within their sets.

The three have performed on and off with each other for years at different festivals, coffee shops and clubs throughout Central and Southern California. Gates started on the mandolin when he was seven and had his own band by age 13.

His skills have earned him several high profile tours and gigs, including a recent appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" backing comedian and banjo player Steve Martin.

When Gates, Williams and Hailes decided to form a band a few years back, they had no idea how compatible they would be.

"We all seem to be in the same kind of mindset," Gates said. "We share a lot of the same views. We cook together. We like the same kind of food. It is very communal."

Musically, Gates said the band tends to avoid the bluegrass label, but they're also not a Mumford & Sons clone.

"They don't really do it for me," Gates said. "Our whole philosophy is to keep it fresh. Don't play the same groove too often. Keep it as diverse as possible. Make ear candy."

The group is touring in support of its self-titled debut album and follow-up live release. Tucson is its only stop in Arizona.

If You go

• What: Salty Suites in concert.

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday

• When: Abounding Grace Sanctuary, 2450 S. Kolb Road.

• Cost: $15 in advance through or $20 cash at the door.

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at or 807-8430.