For some turning forty is a day for celebration and remembrance, Dave marked his fortieth trip around the sun by lighting the fuse to a powder keg and blasting down the hill in style. Dave arranged for both Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger from Umphrey’s McGee to play a special two-set acoustic show in his living room. With both The Magic Beans and The Drunken Hearts supporting the entire event promised to be one not easily forgotten. I headed up with a few friends from Denver and arrived at Dave’s north of Denver around 7 PM. There was already a decent crowd assembled mingling amongst the massive potluck spread complete with a keg of Ranger. It was obvious that this was going to be a stellar night and it was just starting.
We kicked off our shoes into the massive pile by the door and got to it. So many sock-footed friends and familiar faces dotted the room, as the birthday boy chatted with his guests. Bayliss and Jake were sitting on the couch watching their alma mater Notre Dame square off against USC to complete an unbeaten season. The house was perfectly set up for what was about to occur. The UM Duo would perform in the living room and downstairs there was a literally a stage on the carpeting complete with lights and a soundboard. The basement was basically a large L with plenty of room for everyone.
The Drunken Hearts got started a little after 8 PM and quickly warmed up the crowd. There was a party atmosphere so people seemed to float in and out the basement. They played a sweet variety of Americana cut with a bit of rock and roll. Hailing from Vail, Colorado and labeling themselves Alternative Grass Rock, The Drunken Hearts are a new force on the scene. Andrew McConathy’s deep and colorful voice resonated off the basement walls. His tone has a unique quality to it that makes it very versatile and well suited to the genres of music that they play. Early in their set there was a short power outage when the band blew the breaker. The Drunken Hearts very professionally continued to play in the dark. Towards the end of the song the room was again filled with the iridescent green light from the towers. They played a tight version of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” and I was told that Bayliss sat in on kit for a song. Honestly they were a lot of fun and a very smooth way to ease into the night. They recently released Live for Today, which was produced by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, and features sit-ins from both Tim and Scott Law.
Everyone filed upstairs and quietly took their place throughout the kitchen and living room. The stage was simple, two chairs, a couple lights, a small plaque commemorating the life of Sarah Elizabeth Gewald, Brendan, and Jake. Notre Dame had won and it was time to get down. Dave politely told everyone to be respectful and the show was on. They opened up with a fully developed “40’s Theme.”
Set 1: 40’s Theme, In the Kitchen> White Pickle> Den, Rocker Pt 1, Great American> Over the Hills and Far Away> Great American>The Girl is Mine> Jane Says> Great American, Hajimemashite> Glory> Hajimemashite, Dear Prudence, FF> Gulf Stream, Can’t Find My Way Home, 2 dips, 1 bump, and a Fuckload of Pills
Set 2: Divisions> No Comment> Soul Food I^> In the Kitchen, Comfortably Numb, August> That’s The Way> August, Bridgeless@, Jake Solo$, Morning Song, Thunderstruck, The Weight Around, Black Water*, Front Porch> Resolution> Goodbye Blue Sky> Divisions
Encore: Porch**, Night Moves^Horse with no Name (America) and Run To You (Bryan Adams) verses @ W/ Don’t Stop Believing fake out $ Dedicated to “all of our fallen friends.” * W/Clayton Halsey on vocals ** Pearl Jam, 1st time played. The audio stream is online to listen to http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/27255821.
The setlist was just stupid good and the acoustic playing along with the myriad of covers set the premise for the night. The crowd would sporadically chime in to sing along with the band. Brendan and Jake are solid players; their acoustic performances really allow the listener to focus on their ability to just pick. The incredible dynamic between Jake and Brendan was as substantial in front of the select gathering in Dave’s Living Room as it is in front of thousands of screaming fans at Red Rocks. They performed “In The Kitchen” to people who were literally in the kitchen. The entire two set show was playful in this way, with gentle ribbing give to Dave by the band between songs. The jam on “White Pickle” was engaging before they segued into a rare “Rocker Pt. 1”, which has only been played once by Umphrey’s in 2009 since it’s debut in 2006. They used their instrumental “Great American” as the double bookend Jam one of the most compelling runs of the night. ”Great American”> ”Over the Hills and Far Away”> ”Great American”> ”The Girl is Mine”> ”Jane Says”> ”Great American”, I mean really? Weaving out of their own musical landscapes into Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, and Jane’s Addiction in a single strand of a performance is downright mystifying and exceptionally entertaining. Going back to the Umphrey’s songbook they played a nice sandwich of “Hajimemashite”> ”Glory”> ”Hajimemashite” before they went into a beautiful cover of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”
Dear Prudence – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BszbMv_adQ&feature=youtu.be
A favorite moment of mine was the “FF” into “Gulf Stream.” This was just a good combo back to back and seemed to exemplify the feel of the first set; relaxed and celebratory.
FF into Gulf Stream – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa8PTMFqgRs
They again wowed the attentive audience with a rendition of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” before ending the set appropriately with “2 dips, 1 bump, and a Fuckload of Pills.” (I had to check that was really the title of the song and not setlist notes for someone.)
Friends mingled about and eagerly awaited the return of Brendan and Jake. If the first set was a straightforward shot with a few surprises, then the second set was a field of land mines being traversed on a unicycle. They came out strong with a huge “Divisions” to start the show. Dave’s friend brought a painting that was a live representation of this song to be signed, so it made sense that they would use it as the bread for the second set sandwich. “No Comment” was a bit abrupt, but the funky “Soul Food I” included “Horse with No Name” and “Run To You” verses. This was when things started getting weirder. From SF1 they launched back into “In The Kitchen” The first of two second set Pink Floyd covers came in the form of an excellently executed “Comfortably Numb.” They performed yet another back and forth with “August” into Led Zeppelin’s “That’s The Way” and back again. “Bridgeless” contained a massive Journey tease that made the whole crowd cheer. Jake played a stunning solo dedicated to, “all of our fallen friends.” Brendan and Jake played a dark “Morning Song,” which they followed up with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” They busted out a rare “The Weight Around” and the upped the ante with a version the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.” The playful “Front Porch” is an old track seeing less of the rotation in recent years. “Resolution” disintegrated into an absolutely awesome version of Pink Floyd’s “Good By Blue Sky” before they wrapped it up with the aforementioned “Divisions.” Wow. This was just an unbelievable set of music.
Brendan and Jake encored with a first time ever played “Porch” by Pearl Jam as well as Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.” This was such an enjoyable time and a great way to spend a Saturday Night. Magic Beans took the stage downstairs as music fans basked in the afterglow of that acoustic set. The Beans are a talented group who continue to impress audiences all across Colorado and beyond. They played as the people mingled and slowly dribbled away into the darkness. Eventually too my ride indicated that it was time to hit the old dusty trail and we left as the Beans were still shredding. I want to extend a big thanks to Dave for even attempting, let alone pulling off the most incredible birthday party I’ve ever attended. Happy Birthday my friend.