" . . . ol' Ed was just real fond of catchin' his own little fishies and he'd say, `Ya know those young fellers, they just buy their trout. . . . ' " - Fry the Trout

Like Ed, the new-grass band Sugarbeat prefers to catch its own.With a sound typical of no one, the quartet reeled in an appreciative Intermountain Acoustic Music Association audience Friday with songs about fish and, appropriately, the future.

"This is the new direction of Bluegrass music," said IAMA concert promoter Tony Polychronis, known to Bluegrass fans as KRCL's `The Old Man.'

The band first joined up in 1992 on the day prior to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival - and went on to win first place. In the years since, Sugarbeat has traveled the United States and Canada with a sound that takes from traditional Bluegrass, the blues and an undefinable personal style of deliberate . . . something.

And it works.

An audience of all ages filled the U.'s Social Work Auditorium Friday for two sets of Sugarbeat music and a glimpse of prodigal son Matt Flinner, a former KRCL programmer and banjo player for Powder Ridge.

Salt Lake native Flinner, who played the mandolin and bouzouki Friday, was joined by Ben Demerath on guitar and lead vocals, Tony Furtado on banjo and Sally Truitt on bass.

The Salt Lake venue marked the last of a 3,000-mile trek for Sugarbeat - one that took the band into bars and clubs where the music wasn't always the focus of attention, Flinner said.

"People who just come out to listen, it's really weird," he said, joking under the rapt gaze of the 200-plus IAMA concertgoers.

The band supplemented songs off its self-titled CD with standards and several original works - some very recent. On two occasions the band pandered its audience with songs new enough even they didn't know the words by memory.

"It's so new we're going to need these," joked Demerath as he referred to a crinkled page of notebook paper. "But it's so good we're not going to wait until we know it."

The group opened its concert with "Stag Hound," a rousing instrumental, and closed with "Fry the Trout." In between was the ethereal "Frame of Mind" - with Flinner finger-picking the bouzouki - and upbeat "By the Time It Gets Dark."

A narrative accompanied most original works, including "Every Shade of Blue," a song that was started at dawn in New Mexico and finished on a similarly early Nebraska morning.

In many instances, Sugarbeat's songs talk of the future, an appropriate topic for a band with roots in traditional Bluegrass but that plays its music with a contemporary feel.

"We stood scared on a strange night as we saw the future shine in our eyes." - Later On Down the Line