The Runaway Grooms

“The music comes from inside us.”

A combination of contemporary jam band infused with Americana songwriting, blues rhythms and funky beats, The Runaway Grooms are the latest music sensation coming from the Vail Valley. This five-piece band might be heartthrobs, as they sell out shows both locally and on their latest tour. Their second album, “Violet Lane,” was released in October 2021, and as they continue to grow their music, their fan base increases as well. While interviewing them, I, too, developed a fan crush on the band hearing their stories of the road, creating music together and living an adventurous, mountain lifestyle.

The band first formed when lead singer and guitarist, Adam Tobin met Zac Cialek (now playing the steel guitar) in Vail Resorts employee housing. Shortly after, Justin Bissett joined on drums to form the original band in 2017 that played acoustic local gigs. In November 2019, the band expanded with bassist/vocalist Zach Gilliam and keyboardist Cody Scott to revolutionize their sound.

Photos by Jon Resnick

Their style of music is hard to put into one category as it bridges from American jam band to psychedelic rock to blues and soulful songwriting. “The music comes from inside us,” says Scott. Merging from each member’s background, culture and musical influences their sound finds its way out.

“There is no formula to it,” adds Cialek.

The Grateful Dead, an iconic American jam band, plays a heavy influence on The Runaway Grooms’ music. When listening to the Grooms’ songs, you can feel these musical roots. “What we are trying to do today is get back the original jam band and traditional Americana music,” says Tobin. They enjoy keeping storytelling apart of their music like these early influences.

“There is a story and depth to the songs, like in traditional jam bands, but then there is an exploration musically through key changes similar to contemporary jam bands,” explains Gilliam.

With catchy lyrics like in “Song Without Sin,” their highest played song on Spotify, or in a funky keys infused song like “See Where You Land” from their latest album, you find yourself jamming along. Bissett says the band wants people to sing along to their music — and, it’s hard not to.

The Grooms have had a heavy tour schedule since the summer of 2021, traveling from coast to coast sharing their Colorado based music. “Some places think it’s exotic and romantic to be from the mountains, but overall people enjoy our music, and it stimulates a good time,” Tobin shares.

Cialek thinks you must be a little crazy to be a band here seeing that all band members are still paying rent while traveling, as well as having other jobs when landing home. “It’s hard for us to be anywhere else,” he says, “because we draw inspiration from everything we do out here.”


“Not as many bands have such adventurous lifestyles,” Scott adds. How often is it that a band member is rafting down the Grand Canyon or paragliding or ripping backcountry snowboard lines along with many other outdoor pursuits? And because of this uniqueness, they believe they can represent Colorado well.

Gilliam explains there are a lot of talented musicians in the Valley who are concentrating on local markets. “We are going nationally, which sets us apart,” he feels.

Additionally, he believes everyone came to the Valley to pursue the outdoors, which is different than in places like Nashville (where he comes from) where people move there to pursue music. Overall, they are grateful to have found a group of talented musicians to create original music within the valley. This chemistry helps them stand out while on tour.

Their latest tours have featured their newest album, “Violet Lane,” a six song EP, as well as brought back some of their original pieces with a newer twist. Gilliam enjoys seeing people connect to their music by singing along to their songs at venues around the States. “In touring we can see the country with some of our best friends, while also delivering art that we create together in a barn in Eagle, Colorado,” he says.

The band also enjoys meeting each other’s friends and family from around the country, in addition to connecting with other musicians who help motivate and inspire them to pursue their dream. However, with the recent longer times away, the band admits there are some hard times. Scott explains there is a societal pressure to conform, and when looking at their touring reality, they make sacrifices for their art.

“Sometimes we are sleeping five guys in the van, and that’s not even the hard part,” he reveals. “When we return from tour you ask yourself, ‘Am I still a musician? Should I get a job? How do I pay the bills?’ And in these times, we are glad to find a committed group to create music with,” he adds.

They agree the highs of being on tour outweigh the lows. “It’s one of the greatest opportunities we can have as artists,” Tobin says. He admits there is a ton of work that goes into planning for their tour and how it can be an incredibly challenging puzzle to make a living throughout it, but when their only worry is what time their gig is, they can relax and enjoy the journey. They use frisbee golf to destress while on tour and joke about who’s the reigning champion.

In reflecting on some of their favorite live performances, the band agrees that playing in front of a hometown crowd like at the Eagle show downtown last summer and selling out Shakedown Street bar in Vail for three shows was extremely rewarding.

Over the summer, you can catch them at the Eagle Block Party and the GoPro Mountain Games at the beginning of June, Avon Live at the end of June, the Dillion Amphitheater in July and the Ford Amphitheater in late August.

Visit for ticket information.