Leftover Salmon is a Colorado tradition. They are the source from which so much jam and bluegrass flows. String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, and so many others would not be what they are today if it wasn’t for the trail blazed by Salmon on a cold night in Crested Butte over twenty years ago. After an incredible set at Summer Camp i figured it was time for an update from the mountain state. Leftover has gone through some transitions through the years. The passing of Mark Vann, the departure of Jeff Sipe and Bill McKay, the search for formidable replacement on banjo that ended with Andy Thorn have all had an effect on the band. They have persevered and their music is as vibrant as ever.
Their show at The Aggie Theater in Fort Collins was completely sold out meaning tight quarters were the order of the night. I staked my spot Vince side on the rail. They took the stage just before 10 PM with a quick “Liza.”
Set I: Liza, Gulf Of Mexico, Voodoo Queen Marie, Aquatic Hitchhiker, Gold Hill Line, Sing Up To The Moon, Morning Sun, Highway Song, BooBoo*, You Can Find Some Other Man, Lonesome Johnny Blues**, Danger Man**
Set II: Gonna Have A Party, Here Comes The Night, Walking Shoes, Bend In The River, Light Behind The Rain, Riding On The L & N, The Other Side, Mr. Wrong**, Come On Baby**, Out In The Woods**, Railroad Blues**, River’s Rising
*W/ Friends on Drums
**W/ Johnny Hickman on Guitar, Harmonica, and Vocals
Big thanks to Rob O’Brien for taping and posting on Archive. http://archive.org/details/los2013-04-13.24bit
This show was a non-stop shredfest that showcased the new era of Leftover Salmon. The setlist is a mix of fresh and classic with a few surprises thrown in for good measure. “Gulf Of Mexico,” which is basically an indictment of BP and the devastation they caused to the costal waters, was a nice touch. Their Zydeco was showing with “Voodoo Queen Marie,” but it was “Aquatic Hitchhiker” that made jaws drop. This instrumental song built so beautifully, relying heavily on Andy Thorn’s banjo. Andy really has revitalized this band in a big way and continues to keep the energy at peak level. “Gold Hill Line” was a quick, but passionate version with Drew on vocals before they invited a few friends to help with percussion on “BooBoo. “You Can Find Some Other Man” kept up their breakneck pace before they called their old friend Johnny Hickman to the stage. Hickman is from the alternative rock group Cracker and he along with David Lowery recorded bluegrass versions of their songs with Leftover Salmon performing as the backing band. The result was an album entitled O Cracker Where Art Thou?. Hickman is an accomplished guitarist with a rowdy, bluesy feel to his style. Much like what Bill McKay brought to the table, Hickman transformed Leftover Salmon into a rocking bar band. They blasted through two Cracker tunes, “Lonesome Johnny Blues” and “Danger Man” before taking a short set break.
Thirty minutes later the band and opened up round two with “Gonna Have A Party.” We were treated to a subtly stunning “Here Comes The Night,” before coming back to one of their newer songs, “Walking Shoes.” There seems to be a more tuned in consciousness in their lyrics than some of their early work. There is a maturity that only comes with being on the road for two decades and it is seeping into everything they do. Drew busted out his fiddle for “Bend In The River,” which is always a treat, but the highlight of the show was the Andy Thorn sung “Light Behind The Rain.” They slamgrassed us with “Riding On The L & N,” before Drew’ mandolin took the driver’s seat with the Salmon classic “The Other Side.” They invited Hickman back to the stage for a four-song run of both Cracker and Salmon tunes that left fans happy. The version of “Out In The Woods” was yet another highlight in show filled to the brim with high points. They closed the set with an absolute barnburner rendition of “River’s Rising” that showcased the evocative vocals of Mr. Emmitt. There is something about his voice that stays with you long after the amps have been put away for the night.
Leftover Salmon came back to the stage with a quick “Euphoria” and as quickly as it started it was over. This is the type of show that leaves you all bubbles and sunshine. The rain had begun to drizzle as the capacity crowd filtered out into the night. Exhausted smiles dotted the faces of the people as they wiped the sweat from their brows. It was a good night of Salmon and an energizing way to spend a Saturday evening in Fort Collins. For a band that has been on the road for so long it would be easy for them to become blasé as well. However LoS is always innovating, inviting guests, and generally leaving it all out on every stage they play. This a new dawn for this band and I for one am happy to be witnessing their rebirth.
There can be nothing more disheartening for a touring band than to show up and see a crowd of nine people is the total of your audience. This is exactly what happened at The Aggie for Moksha’s headlining gig. Touring with an amazing guest horn section consisting of Skerik, Peter Apfelbaum, and longtime Summer Camp alumni Jennifer Hartswick, the lack of people seemed even more tragic. I arrived early with a few friends and we were immediately confronted with the sweet reggae fusion sounds of Funkmaster.
Funkmaster aka Matt Grundstad, moved to Colorado with world music ensemble and Summer Campers, Euforquestra. They have since parted ways, giving Matt more time to focus on studio collaborations, performing with Dubskin, and his solo work. The Funkmaster setup has been a long time in the making. I first saw him utilize his muliti-instrumentalism along with a looping board all the way back in college. Needless to say the show has progressed immensely into a polished set of music that demonstrates not only his musicianship and vocal ability, but his knowledge of song craft and playing to an audience. Even if that audience is only a few hearty souls. He got our attention with a spot on version of Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” built from the ground up. The highlight of his set was a massive mashup of Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight, Parliament Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under A Groove” and “The Thong Song” among others. He ended his set with a nod to Toots and The Maytals who were just at The Aggie by playing “Bam Bam.” Toots will be as Summer Camp with is trio this year, so don’t miss that.
Up to the stage next was Smooth Money Gesture who jumped on Moshka’s run for their last two nights in Colorado. Smooth Money has been MIA as of late so it was nice to see them back on a bill in Fort Collins. SMG is quintessential Nederland jam with a touch of funk and rock influences. Smooth Money played a set that was just short of an hour, but they sounded fresh, considering they have been on a mini-hiatus for the last few months. They are back playing locally and are definitely worth checking out.
Moksha came to the stage and despite the lack of an audience ripped through an hour and a half of the funky jam.
Set 1: BNJ, Blind, Seed, Bobbin, Sexy M.F., Bathcat, Gettin, Awaken, Rite Away, Island, You Haven’t Done Shit
Although they cut their headlining set short, they can’t really be blamed. Musically they took us on a sweet ride, that actually left me wanting more. They had a strong focus musically, and the horns only added to the overall quality of the performance. Peter Apfelbaum is a jazz savant who can literally play anything, Skerik is a machine, and Jennifer Hartswick is the one-two punch of powerful trumpet and beautiful vocals. My one complaint is that these three seemed almost pushed to the back of the stage, and did not seemed to be featured on solos as much as I would have liked. Either way it was amazing to see these three with Moksha as they plowed through a wide array of their originals. The highlight of the show was the set closing Hartswick sung, “You Haven’t Done Shit.” It may have been somewhat disappointing for the band, but I have to say I was not let down. This ended up being a private show for me and a few other lucky individuals who made it down. You can literally hear the absence of people in the videos I shot, making for a surreal experience. That being said, I had a blast and will definitely be waiting for the return of Moksha.
The final day of the year’s shortest month brought Fort Collins a little treat in form of Greensky Bluegrass performing with Ryan Montbleau Band at The Aggie. Both of these bands have graced the stages at Summer Camp several times over the years. I arrived early just as Montbleau was taking the stage with his eclectic sound brand of swing-infused rock and reggae. In fact RMB wove a rich musical tapestry over numerous genres. They opened with “Chariot.”
Set 1: Chariot (I Know), Hot Coffee In A Paper Cup, Inspired By No One, Dance, Dance, Dance, Songbird, Dead Set, I Can’t Wait
Ryan Montbleau is a name I’ve seen on festival lineups for years, but this was my first chance to see their live show. It was a bouncy fun way to start the night. “Songbird” was a fiery reggae track that blew the roof off the room. It was most definitely the highlight of a tightly packed opening set. My only criticism is that the performance barely reached the forty-five minute mark leaving many fans wanting more. They closed with a massive sign-along entitled “I Can’t Wait.” It was nice to finally see them live in my hometown.
Greensky took the stage shortly after and immediately doused the crowd with powerful string music performed with passion. Several of the fans assembled in the diverse audience informed me that they never miss them when they come to town. Whenever I see Greensky it’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a snowy day. There is nothing more comfortable and clean than watching Greensky pick on a tune. Their set at the Aggie was a versatile demonstration of all that they do. Songs like “Cold Feet” found their way in the mix beautifully. They performed a version of the Talking Heads’ “Road To Nowhere,” that just made sense as a bluegrass number. Anders Beck continues to be a focal point on the stage with his smooth slide work on the Dobro guitar. Mike Bont holds back until the perfect moment to unleash his fury on the banjo. Mike Devol, looking like a bearded Ryan Seacrest, holds down the fort and gives the rest of the band room to solo. They continue to gel musically and play massive shows. They will be back to Colorado twice this summer, once at Telluride Bluegrass, and again at Red Rocks with Railroad Earth and Galactic. In fact their summer is jam-packed with big dates including Delfest, Electric Forest, Camp Euforia, Forecastle Festival, and Northwest String Summit. I think it’s safe to say that the good word of Greensky is spreading far and wide.
The Aggie was host to a funk filled evening with local electro-juggernauts Juno What and dirty jazz impresarios Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. This combination lent itself to some stellar collaboration during the opening set. With Karl D being added to the bill at Summer Camp I thought it would be a good idea to freshen up on his material. Once again the crowd was slow to arrive, but that didn’t stop Juno What from bringing the heat early and often. Consisting of Motet members Joey Porter, Dave Watts, and Excellent Gentlemen keyboardist Steve Watkins, Juno What is rapidly becoming the biggest dance party on the Front Range. The set consisted of a lot of Juno What originals including some new songs. Matt Pitts of The Motet sat in early to add his horn to the mix. They debuted a song entitled, “Rage And Rally” a funky voice box tune about the need for persistence in partying. “Stranger” was another new one, but classics like “Shameless” and “What You See Is What You Get” made it into the rotation. The room quickly filled and soon it was a tight mesh of hippies, beatniks, and college kids. The highlight of the show was a Tiny Universe parade through their set that included sit-ins from guitarist DJ Williams, Karl Denson as well as the Cosmic Horns. They rounded it all out with a massive version of Eddy Grant’s classic “Electric Avenue.” Juno What has continued to bring the fun as every time they perform. Got get yourself some electro-funk whenever possible.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe were joined for much of the night by The Cosmic Horns a three-piece section included Slightly Stoopid’s DeLa. I have to say that the additional brass really filled out the overall sound. The Tiny Universe has long been a favorite of mine, going back to seeing them for the first time in a sweaty dive bar in Iowa. They bring veracity to their playing that is simply infectious and can cause even the most foot-planted fan to dance absurdly. Early in the set a version of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” got everyone’s attention. KDTU also performed their incredible original “Stealin’” which is a funk fueled indictment of the rich and powerful. Local standout Kim Dawson has recently been performing across the country with Karl Denson and the Aggie was no exception. She took the microphone for an interstellar version of The Doors’ “Light My Fire.” Denson himself transitioned from sax to flute to the mic seamlessly, truly playing the role of bandleader. Williams on guitar is an absolute shredder who just sits back and does his thing. The band quite simply sounded fantastic. “My Baby” was yet another highlight in a show jam-packed with musical highs. It’s nice to see KDTU making the festival circuit this year. With already announced sets at Jazz Fest, Summer Camp, and Wakarusa Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe will be making plenty of waves this summer. I hope KDTU continues to tour regularly and spread that good gospel of funk.
Fort Collins has a vibrant music scene; case in point the monstrous bluegrass tainted event at the Aggie featuring the homegrown duo Head For The Hills supported by The Holler!. Much of the time Fort Collins is overlooked when it comes to local music, or seen by touring bands as a warm up show. Over the years I’ve tried to share some of the incredible music that happens here on a weekly basis. This show is a prime example of why I’m happy to call FoCo my home. The Holler! who are usually relegated to playing festival stages, or smaller venuess, found themselves with plenty of room for activities on the Aggie stage. I worried that they would sound thin, but from their opening notes it was clear that they came to play.
Set 1: Kitchen, Karakoram, Wildwood, Beyond The Mirror, You’re So Bad> Come Back Home, Climb, Just Like You, Red Dress> Peak, Memory, Gratitude, Song Remains The Same, Peace Frog
The at times delicate sound of The Holler! filled the room as the few that were already inside wandered toward the stage. They eased into the set with a few originals, before waking up the crowd with a cover of Tom Petty’s “You’re So Bad” into their own beautiful “Come Back Home.” By this point the crowd was steadily growing and they were definitely drinking The Holler! Kool-Aid. Arms flailed as the Friday night crowd showed they were there for a good time. The highlight of the set was an impeccable jamgrass version of Led Zeppelin’s “The Song Remains The Same.” And after that when everyone thought the dance party was over, they closed with The Doors’ “Peace Frog.” I have to say this was the best I’ve seen The Holler! perform, and I look forward to them hitting The Aggie stage again soon.
Head For The Hills is arguably the best musical export Fort Collins has to offer. (I’m sure many Pretty Lights fans would disagree.} They are a local band that has made good performing on the biggest bluegrass stages in the country including Telluride. They recently announced they would play at Rocky Grass this summer. H4TH continues to draw big crowds at home and across the country. They opened the hometown extravaganza with “Down The River Road.”
Set 1: Down The River Road, Instrumental, Light The Way, Instrumental, Never Does, Instrumental, Daylight Turns To Night> 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover> Instrumental, Blue Orchid, Instrumental, Take Me Back, Scrap Metal, Unchain My Heart, New Song?, My Angeline
Set 2: Call Me The Breeze*, Mind Is Moving*, Poor Boy’s Melody, Music For A Found Harmonium, Instrumental, If And When, Midnight Highway, Chili Dawg, Nellie Kane, Lover’s Scorn, High On A Mountaintop, Goin’ Down
Encore: Run To The Hills, Instrumental> Japanese Cowboy, Love Please Come Home
*w/ The Holler!
Focusing on debuting a few new songs, and delivering a top-notch romp through their repertoire, Head For The Hills gave those in attendance quite the show. I don’t know if it was something in the water or perhaps the beer, but just like The Holler! before them, H4TH came out firing on all cylinders. The level of authenticity in Head For The Hills’ lyrics and ability is so unprocessed and at the same time beautiful. First set highlights included the prolific jamming on all of their instrumental tracks, as well as a stellar version of The White Stripes’ “Blue Orchid.” The “Unchain My Heart” was perfect, they closed the first set with “My Angeline.”
The second set began with a huge hometown jam that saw The Holler! sit in on a sweet version of J.J. Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze” before they went into a gigantic version of the Holler original “Mind Is Moving.” First of all, wow, and secondly it was really nice of H4TH to support their opener by playing one of their songs. Additional highlights from the set included a sick version of “Music For A Found Harmonium,” which is a bouncy, lighthearted instrumental. “Nellie Kane” made an appearance, before they closed the set with an incredible “Goin’ Down.”
They began their encore with Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills.” First of all, nice play on words there, and secondly way to rock out the grass. Their four song encore ended with a nice “Love Please Come Home.” What a show! This hometown throw down was loads of fun, and both bands really came to the stage correct. Get out and see these guys, hopefully they will be playing together real soon.
For the second night in a row I ventured down to the Aggie Theater for some live music. It was a co-bill between local favorites Euforquestra and reggae powerhouse John Brown’s Body. It had been three years since JBB last performed in Fort Collins. I first saw JBB very early in my concert-going career; in fact they were a band that demonstrated to me what was possible on any random Wednesday night in a sweaty, crowed bar. The last time I saw them was around 2006 and seeing them live in Fort Collins it was evident that this band had evolved. As we entered the room Mikey Thunder was gracing the slowly growing crowd with a tasty mix of funk and jazz backed by some palpable beats. At times in the past I’ve found Mr. Thunder’s heavier electronic sets to be off-putting, but he actually sounded really solid. The audience was unenthused and Thunder politely called them on it. He also performed during the setbreaks, which seemed to help the overall flow of the evening.
Euforquestra took the stage and hit the fans with a saucy “Obatala” into “Change Me.”
Set 1: Obatala> Change Me, Road Funk, Soup, Backbone> Wasted, Madison Square, Solutions, 64/18, All The Light I Need, Dr. Standby
Euforquestra has been going through some changes, but watching them live you would never know it. Scott Mast continues to fill in on percussion with Craig Babineau holding it down on kit. These two are really starting to gel, which culminated in a huge back and forth drum jam during “Soup.” They continue to surprise me every time I see them perform together. Speaking of surprises Matt Wright’s vocals have added a whole new dimension to Euforquestra’s sound. However the most powerful moment of the set came when Austin sang “All The Light I Need,” which was a song he wrote to honor a fallen friend. They closed their set with “Dr. Standby.”
John Brown’s Body is another band that has gone through their fair share of hardship and change. With the passing of Scott Palmer in 2006 the band underwent a metamorphosis of sorts. Through their sorrow they emerged as a more focused group blending new styles and pioneering what they call “Future Roots Rock.” They eased into the night with an organ-heavy “Ameliorate.”
Set 1: Ameliorate, Give Yourself Over, Following Into Shadow, The Grass, Plantation, Wellington Dub, Shine Bright, Make Easy, Empty Hands, Ambrosia, What You Gonna Do, 33 RPM
Encore: Peace, The Gold
The horn section consisting of Drew Sayers on saxophone, Scott Flynn on trombone, and Sam Dechenne on trumpet was the icing on the cake all night. They added a level of authenticity and panache to the JBB sound. Elliot Martin, the lead singer was as vibrant as ever and danced around the stage authoritatively. The sound had developed from the roots based songs of yore into something quite different. They were now adding elements of dubstep, hip-hop, electronica, and more to the mix in an attempt to be unique and to craft songs that are truly original. This was not your mother’s reggae. That being said they did have a nice mix of traditional and infused reggae. The highlight of the show for me was a fiery rendition of “Shine Bright.” While John Brown’s Body is not the same band I first saw in 2001 and 2003, they are continuing to blaze trails in the reggae world. They were a wonderful fit for Euforquestra and a great way to start the weekend. Let’s not wait another three years for JBB to return.
Mountain Standard Time a band that immediately rose to Front Range fame, as a stalwart jamgrass group seemed to disappear almost as quickly. Over just a few years MST performed on some of the biggest stages in Colorado as well as festivals across the country. They left the scene amid rumors, but now MST emerges after all the speculation with a new lineup and a three-night Mardi Gras run with Jeff Austin. The first stop on that run was Fort Collins.
Continuing my streak of Thursdays at the Aggie, I headed down early to catch the opening set from North Lake Tahoe exports Dead Winter Carpenters. This five piece Americana, rock group has continued to endear audiences across the country. They performed a classic DWC set opening the night with “Making A Living 101.”
Set 1: Making A Living 101, San Antoine, Nothing At All, Bootleg Jack, One Foot In The Gutter, Whiskey Ain’t My Wife, Levi, Nobody’s Fault, Walkin’ Shoes, I Shot Him, Holy Moses
Jenni Charles made her fiddle purr throughout their hour-long opening set, with a special kind of veracity that made every note seem special. Song titles like “Bootleg Jack” and “Whiskey Ain’t My Wife” hint at a simpler time in music, but there is absolutely nothing simple about their performance. Blending styles of country, folk, Americana, rock, roots, and so much more; the Dead Winter Carpenters are truly worth showing up early for. Sharing vocal duties with Jenni, bassist Dave Lockhart and duel guitarists Jesse Dunn and Bryan Daines add so much versatility to what this band can do in a live setting. They finished their set by inviting Nick Dunbar to jam on the last couple songs. In all honesty with shows like this one at the Aggie, it won’t be long before they are headlining the evening.
Finally after much anticipation, Mountain Standard Time took the stage sans Jeff Austin. By this point in the evening the room had filled in with eager college students. I talked to two who seemed slightly annoyed that more people hadn’t turned out.
“Don’t people know who Jeff Austin is?”- Bleary Eyed College Student
Actually the room was fairly full compared to what I have seen on Thursdays at this venue over the last month. And for the record I’m pretty sure people know who Jeff Austin is. Mountain Standard Time opened with “Door Jamb.”
Set 1: Door Jamb> Lioness, Behind The Bar, EMS, Daises, Moon Rocks, Picture, Annabelle, Wandering, No Expectations, Tear It Down
Set 2: Oxytocin, Fairy Meadows, Katy Anne, Guitar Playin’ Man, Speckley Boy, Mamow, Kentucky Mandolin, No One Sees, Boatman, PS
Encore: Rollin, Solace
Out of the gate Mountain Standard Time ripped through their classic repertoire with a tenacity that one would expect from a band hungry to tour. The first look at the group revealed two new members including Otis Lande on bass and former Yamn! keyboardist Ryan Ebarb. Ryan’s departure from Yamn sidelined them for a bit as well, so it’s great to see both of the local jam monsters out playing again. They delivered a searing set before suddenly inviting Mr. Austin to the stage. Starting in the MST catalog they segued nicely into Yonder Mountain String Band’s “No Expectations.” This song featured some sweet back and forth between Jeff and Nick Dunbar. They closed the first set with a massive “Tear It Down.”
The second set turned it up a notch with MST coming back strong. Opening with “Oxytocin” and stepping it up a bit Mountain Standard Time was definitely up to some of their old tricks. Stanton Sutton stood like a young John Oates on the stage, shredding the guitar for the crowd. The highlight of the show was another Jeff lead Bill Monroe instrumental, “Kentucky Mandolin.” They closed their set with a fiery “PS.” Mountain Standard Time is on the cusp of coming back in a big way in Colorado. With younger and younger bands flooding the airwaves, it’s good to see MST back in business. They are a refreshing band to watch and I’m glad they decided to return to their seat at the jamgrass table.
With the departure of Vince Herman to greener pastures in Oregon, the region has experienced a deficit in the random acts of music he would regularly bestow upon our community. He was a regular fixture in Ned, his former home, and down on The Front Range. It would be difficult not to find Vince Herman playing somewhere on any given weekend in Colorado. Now Vince is a commodity, so I made it point to head down to see Great American Taxi at the Aggie Theater. As fate would have it they were recording the entire run for an upcoming live album.
Up first were Bonnie And The Clydes, a six-piece country and rock outfit lead by Miss Bonnie Sims. They opened with “Dear Departed.”
Set 1: Dear Departed, My Love Will Keep, Lonely Love, Eye To Eye, Storm On Its Way, Rocky Mountain Town, Waltz For The Seasons, LA County, Man In Me, Darkside, Still House, Ophelia, Hold On Me
Relatively new to scene, Bonnie And The Clydes are an interesting addition to the already bountiful music of the Front Range. They are lead by firecracker Bonnie Sims, who belts it out as well as she plays a six string. She is flanked by a full band consisting of her husband Taylor Sims on electric guitar, Nancy Steinberger on fiddle, Michael Schenkleberg on bass, Chris Ramey on pedal steel, and Damon Smith on drums. Their renditions of Dylan’s “Man In Me” and The Band’s “Ophelia were spot on and really got the crowd moving. They had a rowdy tone that was a perfect fit for Great American Taxi.
Great American Taxi is the side project of Leftover Salmon front man Vince Herman. He has assembled an incredible lineup of musicians to fill out his group. In addition to Vince Taxi is Chad Staehly on keys, Jim Lewin on guitar, Brian Adams on bass, and Chris Sheldon on drums. They really seemed to have gelled since I saw them last summer. This show being part of the Snowball Tour it was the first time Vince has made it back since moving out of state. Honestly, it could have gone either way. They opened with their original “Standing All Alone.”
Set 1:Standing All Alone, Appalachian Soul, New Millennium Blues, Linning Track, Penny Arcade, Jack London, Twilight, Swamp Song, Going To Brownsville, Tough Job, Angel Dust, Poor House, Coming Home To You, Travlin’ Man, West L.A. Fadeaway, Little Liza Jane, Dirty Old Town, Instrumental, Reckless Habits, Cold Lonely Town, Great American Taxi, When I Die, Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow
Encore: Good Night To Boogie
For a Taxi fan this show has absolutely everything you could want in a live show. Their mix of bluegrass, Americana, and rock is so approachable it seems impossible not to have fun seeing them live. Songs like “Appalachian Soul” and “Poor House” address real issues in American society like the working conditions in the coal mining industry as well as the plight of the impoverished in this country. Great American Taxi really has evolved and it’s great to see them playing at this level. Their covers included everything from Leadbelly’s “Linning Track” to Ry Cooder’s “Going Down To Brownsville” to the Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway.” It really was a fun and musically eclectic night. They closed the set with their version of the Flatt & Scruggs classic “Aint Gonna Work Tomorrow.” Great American Taxi encored with “Good Night To Boogie.” With the departure of Vince to Portlandia it’s even more important for him to come back to the Front Range with memorable shows. That is exactly what Great American Taxi accomplished on their swing through the Aggie. With the live recording coming out, it will be awesome to get a greatest hits album from such a solid run
It was a big night in Fort Collins. The Aggie brought in an impressive lineup consisting of some of the best jazz and funk artists touring today. Hodi’s was celebrating their grand re-opening under new ownership with Dave Watts and Friends (aka The Motet) and free beer. The people that wanted to party headed to Hodi’s, the music fans went to The Aggie. I honestly would have loved to catch both, but the amazing music unfolding before my eyes kept me from moving on.
Up first was Garrett Sayers Trio lead by bass virtuoso and local phenom Mr. Garrett Sayers. This lineup consisting of Garrett on bass, Patrick Lee on keys, and Johnny Jyemo on drums has had a longstanding Wednesday night residency at the Highland Tap & Burger. They have intrigued me for a long time, but this was my first chance catching them live. GS3 took the stage around 9:15 and dazzled the crowd for just short of an hour. It was a rollercoaster ride with this nimble trio weaving together a massive sound for such a tight unit. The diversity within the GS3, was evident from the beginning. Each member of the band seems to be coming from distinctly different musical backgrounds. The result was this amazing blending of funk, jam, jazz, R & B, and so much more percolated in and out of every song. Garrett Sayers Trio is an instrumental band as were all the bands on the bill minus Kung Fu who will occasionally feature a song with vocals. There is something freeing about going to see an instrumental band. The show doesn’t get all convoluted with silly things like lyrics. I’m being facetious but it really does allow the audience to focus strictly on the music. It was impossible not to focus on GS3 as all three members wowed the slowly growing crowd. They finished their remarkable set and headed down the road where Garrett joined his Motet band mates for their gig at Hodi’s. He really is a hard worker.
Kind Recordings has the show up on Archive. Thanks to Corey for taping the show. http://www-tracey.archive.org/details/gstrio2013-01-24.fob.mc803.kindrec
Last year jam super group Kung Fu made several visits to Colorado, and they definitely made an impression. This time they were on a 5-day mission from God that took them from Aspen through Breckenridge and down to the Front Range. This was night three of that run and their set again came in at just under an hour was truly mind melting. While the Aggie was only about a third full, I was impressed with the variety of people in the crowd. I chatted with a couple of older gentlemen who had won tickets off of the radio with little knowledge of what was in store for them. I saw young college kids mingling with middle-aged hipsters. Perhaps the most alarming thing about this show was the distinct lack of chatter during the show. As you can hear in the recordings, people were definitely there to see the music. Kung Fu is Tim Palmieri on guitar (The Breakfast), Robert Somerville on tenor sax (Deep Banana Blackout), Todd Stoops on keyboards (RAQ), Christopher DeAngelis on bass guitar (The Breakfast), and Adrian Tramontano on drums/percussion (The Breakfast). This is truly a powerhouse lineup that did not disappoint. They opened with “Do The Right Thing.”
Set 1: Do The Right Thing, Snaggle, Scapegoat Blues> Letters From Bobby Portugal> Hollywood Kisses, Chakrabarty Overdrive
Kung Fu is a hard-hitting amalgamation of funk-fueled fire assaulting the senses of all those who dare to enter the ring. It’s a constant onslaught from Palmieri who literally had to have a stagehand douse him with an extinguisher after his massive solo during “Scapegoat Blues.” “Hollywood Blues” was the only song of the entire evening that featured vocals. They closed their ‘not long enough’ set with “Chakrabarty Overdrive” which as it’s name would insinuate caused me to need to go outside for some air. Keep coming back Kung Fu, and keep playing bigger and bigger shows. Colorado needs your brand of funky goodness.
Finally it was time for the B3 master himself Robert Walter to take the stage with his 20th Congress. Now this band has had several incarnations and has a rotating list of members. Fans at The Aggie were treated to a stunning lineup consisting of Cheme Gastelum (Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings), Chris Stillwell (Greyboy Allstars), and Simon Lott (Charlie Hunter Trio). Just unbelievable. They opened with a gritty “Hunk.”
Set 1: Hunk, Snakes & Spiders, Cory’s Snail and Slug Death, Sweetie Pie, Dog Party, He’s Really Gone, Rivers of Babylon, Get Thy Bearings, Who Took the Happiness Out?, Fox Hunting, Don’t Chin The Dog, Impervious, Instant Karma
Encore: Don’t Hate Congratulate
Robert Walter is best known for his work with Greyboy Allstars, however his solo band is truly not to be missed. I really felt that it has been such a long gap between his tours, that many are no longer in the know. And it’s too bad really, because the show we received from this lineup was nothing short of top notch. The lack of guitar really put the focus on Walter and Gastelum and their interplay was outstanding. The highlight of the show for me was the Phantom of the Opera-esque intro to the instrumental “Rivers Of Babylon.” They closed their set with a massive jam on Lennon’s “Instant Karma.” This is the caliber of music I would like to see more of on The Front Range. Despite the conflicting shows, I feel I made the right choice and left feeling musically satisfied in a way that I have not been in quite some time. Watching truly gifted musicians jam together is the reason I started really covering live shows. Seeing this stellar lineup on a Thursday night in Fort Collins just validates that decision.
My general aversion to electronic music is well known. Although I have enjoyed a few forays into the genre at Summer Camp last year my general reaction is not usually positive. However, I’ve seen some electronic groups that play organically, as a unit, and the music is more textural than dubstep. These are the types of electronic artists I’m drawn to. Particle is one such band. They are one of those bands that hit early Summer Camp lineups for three years between 2003 and 2005. Those early shows were a lot of fun as was their performance of 80′s tunes at The Aggie.
Up first was New Orleans natives EarPhunk. These guys are the next generation behind the Galactics and the Dumpstphunks of The Big Easy. The fluidly blend jam and funk in a balanced way that makes it fun for the audience. They did get riff-y at times, but that’s to be expected from a younger band still developing their sound. They started their set to a sparsely filled room, which would eventually get about a third full. Overall their brand funk influenced jam won me over and will give me plenty of reason to give them another listen.
Having seen Particle for the first time around 2001 in a tiny bar in Iowa, I’ve watched this band grow and evolve over the years. The recent inclusion of former full-time guitarist into the mix certainly seems to have reinvigorated Particle. Their show at the Aggie was both hilarious and technically stunning. Let’s start with the hilarious.
Set 1: Sledgehammer, Funkytown, Let’s Go Crazy, Electric Avenue, Once In A Lifetime, Pump Up The Volume> Rockit> Material Girl> Pump Up The Jam, The Final Countdown> Money For Nothing, Safety Dance> Launchpad Outro, It Takes Two>
Wild Thing> It’s Tricky> Bust A Move, Don’t Forget About Me, You Can Call Me Al, Sweet Dreams
Encore: Paradise City, Eye Of The Tiger> Sun Mar 11 Outro
From the opening guitar line of “Sledgehammer” I was grinning from ear to ear. Particle has their specific smooth style of electronica, but their take on the music of the 1980’s was fairly straightforward and strangely accurate. The setlist screams of lightheartedness, but don’t be fooled they absolutely shredded these classics. None more so the massive “Pump Up The Volume’ lead run that featured an enormous version of “Pump Up The Jam.” It was like a big musical sandwich with wheat bread on the bottom and rye on top. Particle never shied away from intricate composed pieces such as “The Final Countdown.” Perhaps the silliest moment of the night came in the form of “Safety Dance.” They ended the set with their version of the Eurythmics version of a country song, “Sweet Dreams.” The massive encore included a nod to both Guns N’ Roses as well as Survivor. It was just an amusing and entertaining show all around. Combe killed the guitar adding a new and interesting layer to their sound overall. Molitz continues to be the musical focal point with the lockstep rhythm section of Gould and Pujalet holding it all in check. Here is Particle back to their old tricks, firing on all cylinders, and truly gelling on stage. I would definitely do it all again.