Saturday was stupid hot musically and temperature wise. I now understand why adventurous campers stay in the woods during the day. It was a different world in the trees. One dub step dude was dragging a stone tied to a string and talking to it telling “Stoney” to “watch out” for those behind him. While some people were fried, most slabbed on the 100SPF sunblock so as not to look like Joan Rivers turkey neck by the end of the festival. After lathering myself up I headed out in search of something cool.
I thought Afternoon Moon could help in the coolness area so I headed over to check out their Camping Stage set. The fellas from Chicago delivered in front of their “Mooners” despite the heat. Jordan and his brother Joe promised their fans this was one not to miss and I have to say they threw down. I spent a few songs cooling off under the canopy of the woods before going to check out Family Groove Company, the coolest band since Miles Davis peed his pants over on the Moonshine Stage.
Jordan Wilkow of Family Groove Company told the crowd basking in the sun in front of Moonshine Stage to stay hydrated and held up a beer. Janis “Ice” Wallin and Adam Lewis in unisoned choreography spun their guitars. The family got slightly larger as the band added a horn section for certain songs in the set Set highlights included originals in “White Picket Fence” and “A Misdemeanor’s Worth” and the band covering Wilco’s “I’m the Man Who Love’s You” and Tower of Power’s “Squib Cakes.”
That song must have got my girlfriend Liz and I hungry so after scarfing down some tasty Minglewood Fired Pizza we doused the red pepper flake flames with a few 312 brews and headed to check out ALO. This was my first time checking these guys out and I have to say it was nice to lay back on the lawn and groove to them. Since the “crowd was in the right mind” as ALO lead guitarist explained they played a special song about “Monkeys” dedicated to Phil Lesh. Transitioning into a long fast funky chunky monkey jam the band played a variety of lively classic tunes. The band closed with “Maria” and reminded us that we had a lot of good music coming up.
Gigantic Underground Conspiracy are a combination of musicians from Disco Biscuits and Umphrey’s McGee. I spotted Camp Counselor Maria Iriart taking in one of her three on stage sets as they played Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” This was foreshadowing of what was to come later in the Red Barn set for Brain Damaged Eggmen.
Over at the Soulshine Tent a private little chat with Chuck Garvey from moe. was taking place with Rock the Earth. He brought with him drummer Vinny Amico who talked about a variety of socially conscientious issues they worked on with Dave Matthews. They also talked bout how moe. was actively involved with humanitarian efforts with the Red Cross as well as donating to environmental charities through working with the Rain Forest Network.
Chuck also answered a few questions on song writing and he said at times it could take years to craft one before it was ready to unearth. He explained while it was “fun to play Led Zeppelin it was also nice to write” even though he’s extremely critical of his songs. Chuck and Vinny played a song written on an airplane with an alternate acoustic version of “Summer Women.” Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey’s McGee came up to answer a few questions as well. The tri-panel each told of their favorite places when not on the road. For most it was home. Chuck said Florida, Vinny the Adirondack Mountains, and Brendan his hometown of Chicago as he could have a zen moment having the city at his back looking out into the nothingness that was Lake Michigan. The best part of it all was that they closed it out with “Bell-Bottom Blues” by Eric Clapton with Chuck on lead vocals and Brendan singing background vocals. Don’t judge a band by its name is something we all remember when it comes to moe. and Umphrey’s McGee.
Next we headed to the Camping Stage and checked out our good friends Old Shoe play their inaugural Summer Camp. “Welcome Home” opened the set and lead into “Let Yourself In” as the sun fell behind the horizon. Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” was sandwiched in between “Joe’s Song” and “Days Rain Night.” Playing mostly original work off the bands last album Let Yourself In and a forthcoming unnamed release the sunset backdrop of the newly renovated stage was just what we needed to properly kick off the evening. We hung around for Midwest Hype who went on right after Old Shoe, and though we’ve seen our friends from Laporte/Muncie area plenty around Chicago were hit with a wonderful surprise when the fellas paid tribute to Adam Yauch aka MCA the recently departed Beastie Boy and musical pioneer.
Laying down on the grass for some Umphrey’s McGee covering Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” around 10:30pm was the perfect way to celebrate a job well done by the Shoe gang. The light show was spectacular but Liz and I had Red Barn late night passes to see Brain Damaged Eggmen. So we split off from the group and decided to meet up later at Hot Buttered Rum playing at the Campfire Stage.
Brain Damaged Eggmen in the Red Barn was epic. It wasn’t too crowded though it got a bit toasty towards the end of it. Giant beach balls were fisted skyward as glow sticks and elaborate light displays enhanced the surreal atmosphere. I love both Pink Floyd and the Beatles and Brendan Bayliss thanked everyone for letting them entertain this side project.
Setlist: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Another Brick in the Wall, Baby, Your a Rich Man >Obscured by Clowns>Tomorrow Never Knows, Have A Cigar> Breathe> Comfortably Numb>I Am the Walrus>Dark Side of the Moon.
We caught up with the Shoe Family for Hot Buttered Rum and were able to take in everything from “Like the French” to covers of the Grateful Dead’s “Round and Round” and Beatles “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” Sitting by the Campfire around 4am I decided for the sake of not having too bloody of a Sunday it was probably best to hit the hay.
With Leftover Salmon making it back to Summer Camp this year I thought it would be good to give their new album a listen. Here is my review. Eight years in the making Leftover Salmon’s Aquatic Hitchhiker finally hit record stores last week. A truly original work of art this album is everything Salmon with absolutely no filler. Comprised of road-tested tracks as well as some new tunes. The impetus for all of can only be the addition of Andy Thorn to the lineup. The last year has seen some changes in Camp Salmon. The departure of Bill McKay and the addition of Thorn have given the band a clearer focus on the “Poly-Ethnic Cajun Slamgrass,” that is their hallmark. The opening tune entitled “Gulf of Mexico” is sung by Drew Emmitt and is reminiscent of his earlier work like “Valley Of The Full Moon.” It refers to the oil spill in the Gulf and shows how Salmon continues to be concerned with bigger issues. Martinez’s drums hit hard like an abandoned alarm clock left to rattle away while Drew’s vocals just soar. Vince gets funky on the road song, “Keep Driving.” You can almost picture him looking out the window of a tour bus with a notepad in hand writing the words down. “Liza” is one of my favorites that has made it into their new rotation; it’s a fun shanty love song that makes crowds bounce. Musically the title track “Aquatic Hitchhiker” is perhaps the most profound on the album, lead by Thorn’s banjo shredding and Drew’s violin. For several years after the passing of Mark Vann and the exodus of Noam Pikelny LoS seemed to be searching for someone to fill the void. I can honestly say that they have found the plug in Andy Thorn. The banjo is so essential to their sound that it is imperative to have a finger-flying shredder at the helm. Andy is just that. “Bayou Town” as it’s name insinuates is a down home zydeco-flavored strum. Greg Garrison’s bass finally finds the spotlight on “Sing Up to the Moon,” with Vince on vocals. In “Light Behind the Rain” Thorn steps up the microphone, it’s a track that he used to perform with Grant Farm. His smooth delivery is the perfect juxtaposition to Vince’s rowdiness and Emmitt’s towering voice. Leftover kicks back into high gear with the extra optimistic “Stop All Your Worrying.” Martinez gets out the brushes to Great American Taxiesque “Walking Shoes.” The Americana that Herman has been focusing on for several years certainly made it into the mix with this song. “Kentucky Skies” is a Scruggs flavored romp into the Salmon’s more traditional sound. “Gone For Long” feels like the days last cigarette while the album closing “Here Comes The Night” gets jazzy and a little lounge.
The mix of Aquatic Hitchhiker is just stellar. Recorded in both Colorado and Portland, it has a solid flow, both in music and texture. I highly recommend grabbing a copy, sitting down with a cold beer, and letting the night come.
Hey Scampers, one week till Scamp time! Yesss!
I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to attend Summer Camp 2012 as your Counselor in Training. It truly is an honor and a dream come true. I’m going to tell ya a little bit about myself so you can get to know your CIT a little better, and then I’m going to tell you what I’m most excited for at SC.
Since 2005 I’ve been attending 1-2 music festivals each year, and they have more or less turned into my home away from home each summer. I always choose which festival I attend each summer based on who has the best lineup for my tastes. And this year it was a no brainer, Summer Camp 2012 all the way! (I must admit though that I do have a soft spot in my heart for Wakarusa and the Harvest festival with their spectacular scenery up on Mulberry Mountain. Just check out this breath taking aerial shot!) In St. Louis, I’m always attending shows. Especially the shows of Aaron Kamm and the One Drops (check them out!). One thing that’s great about my city is that there’s always free shows going on year round, which is a great way to get into and support local bands. I usually attend shows at small venues such as the Firebird, Broadway Oyster Bar, the Old Rock House, Lemmon’s, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Schlafly Tap Room, and the Schllafly Bottleworks. As for the larger shows, I usually go to the Pageant or Pop’s.
As for SC, I’m most excited to see some Gogol Bordello. I’ve seen these accordion playin-fiddlin’ strummin’-wine splashin’-gypsy punks several times, and their energy is enough to blow your face off! If you need a quick energy boost to get ya through the rest of Friday night, make sure you check out this band. (Just don’t forget to find me during their set and dance with me in the front!) I also can’t wait to see some Umphrey’s, I’ve been seeing these guys 2-3 times a year since 2005, and like everyone knows, every show is always different and better than the last! Now let’s just hope that we can all make it to every one of their 5 of their sets in 3 days at SC. And I can’t wait for some Primus, especially since I haven’t seen them since they put out their new album Green Naugahyde. It’ll be quite a set with some new tunes in rotation. Plus, you can never go wrong with the lovely bass playin’ of Les Claypool, side project or not, he always puts on a spectacular show. I also can’t wait to get on my dancin’ shoes and hit up some Rubblebucket! This will be a first for me, but just the sound of Kalmia Traver‘s sultry voice puts me in a romantic daze. I’m also excited for some Keller Williams, Galactic, The New Orleans Suspects, The Infamous Stringdusters, Gov’t Mule, Michael Franti, G. Love, Common, Jane’s Addiction, Wooten, Zoogma and many more!
Once I first found out that I made it to the top 6, the planning and packing began. Well, mostly because I had a horrible nightmare that I showed up to SC with only my tent and the clothes on my back. That was frightening. But anyway, my festival essentials include my eno hammock, lots clean under drawers, costumes, sunscreen, baby powder, apples, and my blow up mattress. I’m always lookin’ out for the Scamper, so I purchased some goodies to give away to my fellow Scampers such as hundreds of glowsticks (for glowstick wars), glow paint, and fuzzy pink moustaches. I am also apart of the Umphrey’s street team, so you can expect some sweet Umphrey’s goodies from me as well! As your CIT, of course I will give you a personal perspective of my SC experience through technology, but I’m all about you, the Scamper. I can’t wait to get to know you and make lifetime friends in the process. I’m going to be running around in costumes half of the weekend, so if you’re dressed in a costume too, I wanna meet ya and award you with a fuzzy pink moustache! And as promised, I will be bringin’ those apples! So if you’re a fan of the apple, be ready to catch one headed in your direction. Also, I’m coming to SC with my main squeeze Adam. If you watched my contest video, he was the dude that was trying to “rob” me. One of our favorite things to do together is swing dance, so you’ll probably see us bustin’ some swing moves during sets and especially at Gogol Bordello. I’ll also be hangin’ with my friend Joe (who I met some years ago through my best girl E-Flat) and his friends who are SC veterans.
I am excited and proud to say that this is going to be my first Summer Camp! And I can’t wait to spend it with you. So if you see me out and about, don’t be shy, come say “hi”! I’d love to chat it up with you or dance our booties off together to some tasty tunes. So let’s make it the best one yet! (Not only because my birthday is on Thursday of SC, but especially since I heard some crazy rumor that the world is supposed to end sometime late this year…it’s probably a buncha psssh, but let’s do it up anyway!)
Love, hugs, and thugs,
It’s no secret that I dig what Keller Williams does. From his early loop filled days playing small clubs to his latter band based projects performing in front of massive festival crowds one thing remains true, Keller is fun. Summer Camp has always stood behind K-Dub, in fact he has performed in one incarnation or another every year at Summer Camp except two. It’s safe to say that he and the festival itself are pretty intertwined. His most recent endeavor is as a front man for the Travelin’ McCourys. His acoustic chops fit in nicely with the bluegrass powerhouse from Appalachia. Obviously he is not trying to replace Del McCoury, no on could do that, but is simply looking to play with a full string lineup. What better string band could he possible find other than the Travelin’ McCourys? There was no opening group, so Keller and the McCourys took the stage just before 10 PM. They started the night with an entertaining “Mullet Cut,” here if the rest of the setlist.
SET I: Mullet Cut, Gallivanting, The Graveyard Shift, The Hobo Song, Pepper, Road is Rocky, My Mine Never Closes, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, American Car, Corn Liquor, All In My Mind, Blame It On The Lonesome Wind, Ain’t About The Money, Sweet Mountain Soul
SET II: My Something Else, Freeker By The Speaker, Heads Will Turn, Friend Of The Devil, Loser, Evangelina, Kidney In A Cooler> Deep Elum Blues> Kidney In A Cooler, Forty Years To Life, Port-o-Potty, I’m A Man, Franklin’s Tower
ENCORE: My Grass Is Blue
Thanks to eman for posting the recording on Archive.
The first set was a mix of the traditional and the innovative. Some great versions of classics like The Old And In The Way’s “Hobo Song” and Earl Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” However they got a little crazy on some covers like the Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper” and Mike Doughty’s “American Car.” It was certainly an interesting mix with Keller taking the vocal duties much of the time. They passed around solos nicely proving that the McCourys have truly learned from the best. Ronnie McCoury, was simply astonishing but the MVP may have been Jason Carter on fiddle. His playing cut through the whole crowd, giving a real flair and authenticity to the overall sound.
The second set seemed more freeform and centered around classic Keller. Freeker got everyone excited and ignited an all out dance party at the Aggie. I will say that while the show did not appear to be sold out there was definitely a good crowd in the room. We got a much-anticipated Dead interlude with “Friend Of The Devil” and “Loser.” However the real highlight of the show may have been the Kidney In A Cooler into Deep Elum Blues into Kidney In A Cooler. Port-o-Potty got everyone dancing again and the set closing Franklin’s Tower was a nice touch. They encored with a quick My Grass is Blue. The show was great, and it’s nice to see Keller really stretching out with his musical chops. He could easily have stuck with his classic shtick, but he wants to grow and expand his capability on stage. It is apparent that he is always evolving and looking for new ways to entertain. Check out Keller at this year’s Summer Camp, you won’t be disappointed.
Summer Camp stalwarts Cornmeal teamed up with three year SCamp veterans Hot Buttered Rum for an epic night of jamgrass in Denver. When we saw these two bands partnered up for a show on the Front Range I knew I couldn’t miss it. Occurring on the same weekend as the Snowball Music Festival in Vail, it was questionable whether or not they would draw a big crowd. Well the masses of bluegrass aficionados from up and down the Rockies made the trek. It would prove to be a wise choice for all that came to this amazing live experience.
Cornmeal over the years has become a not to miss show when they come to town. After seeing their stellar performances at Summer Camp and State Bridge this summer, I’ve become so enamored with their sound that I find myself anticipating their Front Range shows months in advance.Their co-bill with Hot Buttered Rum only added to my excitement for this particular night at The Ogden in Denver, Colorado. I haven’t seen Hot Buttered Rum since November of 2010 and in that time Matt Butler left the band to pursue Everyone Orchestra full time and they replaced him with Lucas Carlton. He has a slightly less prominent sound in the mix but is still very accomplished his role as their new drummer. They opened with a rowdy Crest, here is the rest of the setlist.
SET I: The Crest, Texas Eagle, Late In The Evening, Missoula To Miami, Squall, Let The Love Come Through, Busted In Utah, Blackberry Pie, Entangled, Fruit Of The Vine, Angeline The Baker, Ramblin’ Girl, Beneath The Blossoms, Poison Oak, Working Man
The new Hot Buttered Rum has a fresh sound and the solid energy that made me a fan of their way back when. They still tour pretty heavily but have not been as prominent on The Front Range as they have in years past. The room began to fill in as they started the show. Set up on stage right was Denver’s most renowned live painter Scramble Campbell. Scramble danced wildly as he splattered paint on the canvas. It’s great when he’s in the room; it’s even better when he is on the stage for everyone to see.
Hot Buttered Rum slayed the crowd with classics like Busted in Utah and Working Man. The room reached a fevered pitch as they finished their set, which lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes. HBR is a powerful bluegrass experience and seeing them with Cornmeal was simply stunning, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Cornmeal has truly proven to me in the last year that they are a band that will always deliver. They bust their ass in every city they play. With their high-octane jamgrassadelic style, they produce a palpable energy that is infectious. Cornmeal began the show, as they seem to do most of the time with a flurry of sound. It’s almost akin to an orchestra tuning, before they go into their first song. Their two-hour set had so many highlights and great moments. Whenever I think I’ve seen them at their best, I get a show like the one performed at the Ogden and it just blows me away.
For a band that tours relentlessly, their road tested sound continues to develop. They are so ridiculously tight that their live show leaves nothing to be desired. High points of their set included a strong I’m Coming Back Home and a huge When The World’s Go You Down. We were also treated to a jamgrass version of Steve Miller Band’s Swingtown, which saw Kris Nowak in the pocket getting his rock on. They sounded great and if they had ended there that would have been plenty, but what the crowd received was a half hour encore of Hot Buttered Corn.
(With Cornmeal and All of HBR except Lucas Carlton)
What some of my friends have called a clusterpluck it was a giant stringed hoedown that culminated with Wavy Dave singing a brilliant Sympathy For The Devil. It was a great end to a truly amazing show. The energy from start to finish is the reason why I see both of these bands. The combination of both was something I could only dream of. As I walked out of the Ogden I was buzzing form the adrenaline that built up over the course of the night. My final thought of the evening was that Hot Buttered Corn needs to do a national tour.
The icing on the cake that night was that Mr. Ian Goldberg himself was at the show. I took the opportunity to say hello and let him know how excited I was for the lineup at Summer Camp this year. He wished me well and I told him I would be seeing him a just a few short months.
To celebrate entering my 31st year on this planet we headed down to The Bluebird in Denver to catch Split Lip Rayfield. I had a solid crew consisting of Amy, my brother, and my best friend Ben. We grabbed a spot on the rail in the balcony as I roamed around taking photos. Split Lip Rayfield played Summer Camp in 2010 and in my oppinion are a not to be missed live experience. They are so unique and incredibly talented that watching them perform is simply jawdropping. Furthermore, I love the Bluebird; it is by far my favorite intimate venue in Denver. Good layout, awesome sightlines, amazing acoustics, and a great crew all combine to make any live show at The Bluebird a good one. Living in Fort Collins, I don’t get down as often as I would like, but it’s always a pleasure when I make it back.
Soon after we arrived Rayland Baxter Took the stage. Rayland was a mustachioed troubadour from Nashville. Odessa Rose accompanied him on violin and backing vocals for most of his set. Baxter demonstrated an incredible sonic range going from minimalist plucking to a full on audio assault. He was a storyteller and an acoustic bard. Rayland had an unusual knack for weaving songs out of observations, from his Mountain Song about living in the Rockies of Colorado to his interesting biopic entitled Willie’s Song. The highlight of his set was a tragic tinged tune called The Cold Easy Life of a Loner. It was a great albeit slower way to start the show.
The Magic Beans are anything but slow. Bringing a slew of their own fans with them, many in the crowd showed a level of enthusiasm rarely seen for a local act. Hailing from Nederland The Magic Beans have begun to build a loyal fanbase that is willing to catch them up and down the Front Range. A young band with a lot of potential they seem to be all over the map when it comes to their sound. Ranging from Phishy jam to a Disco Biscuits style dance party. At times they drifted into a distinctly Dead tone, which I found to be the best parts of their show. I will say this set of songs was very similar to their opening set for Elephant Revival I caught a few months back at The Aggie, but that’s understandable given their youth. The Magic Beans have enormous promise, and are already making waves in and around the Denver jam scene. Given the fact that they have had some solid opening slots and are finding their way into festival lineups including the upcoming Snowball and Phibstock. I see good things in their future as they continue to develop their style.
Split Lip Rayfield took the stage around 11 PM. This trio from Witchita, Kansas was a rapid fire kick in the junk. With machine-gun delivery and an urgent take on traditional bluegrass, their sound was simply infectious. Often classified as cowpunk and appropriately so, Split Lip Rayfield is a punch bowl of all things bluegrass. The only thing for certain was that this was not Del McCoury’s band. The Stitchgiver, a homemade one string bass cobbled together from a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis gas tank, is the beating heart of SLR. Watching Eaton whack away at that single string may have been their most entertaining aspect of the show. One thing that cannot be overlooked was just how much rhythm he produced with just one string.
The show was Redbull bluegrass, like slamming an espresso in a musical shot glass. The crowd was literally whooping and hollering as their show got underway. The main element that they borrowed from punk besides their shredding delivery was the two-minute structure of many of their songs. If you didn’t like one of the tunes, it was okay because it would be over soon. This was not my experience, I found myself truly locked into what was happening on stage. After I got my photos I headed back up to the balcony for the rest of the show. Split Lip Rayfield had a certain irreverence, with songs like A Little More Cocaine Please and I Used To Know Your Wife, it was obvious that while they were playing seriously they were not taking themselves too serious.
Additional highlights from the show included Movin’ To Virginia and Kiss of Death. They ended the show just after 12:30. I was 31 and happy that my first show of this rotation around the sun was Split Lip Rayfield. Having only caught the end of their set a couple years back at Red Rocks, it was great to see them playing for a dedicated group of fans in this awesome venue. I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to have their face melted by a banjo, a mandolin, and a one-string gas tank to head out and see Split Lip Rayfield next time they make it to town.
Although Railroad Earth has only graced the Summer Camp bill in 2010 they are still part of the family. They have a dedicated fanbase and are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the scene. For the second time in two years, I headed down to the Ogden to catch Railroad Earth for a night of their New Year’s run. Last year I saw them with Great American Taxi on NYE. This year I headed down on the 30th mainly because the show included a sit-in with Kyle Hollingsworth, another Summer Camp alumni. Including my trip to Chicago, this would be the fifth time in a month seeing Kyle live. Amy picked me up from work and we headed out to a nice sushi dinner before heading over to the box office. We hit up Pete’s Monkey Bar to catch a bit of the Phish live stream from MSG before walking back to The Ogden to see the opening act.
Railroad Earth came onto the stage around 9:30 PM. Kyle’s keys were set up but he waited a few numbers before making his way to his rig. They opened with a funky Walk Beside Me, led by Andrew Altman on electric bass. Here is the rest of the setlist from Archive.
SET I: Walk Beside Me, Lordy, Lordy, Bread and Water, Little Bit O’ Me, Stillwater Getaway, The Hunting Song, Mourning Flies, Said What You Mean, Long Way To Go
SET II: Old Man and the Land, Head> Will it Go Round in Circles, Bringin’ My Baby Back Home, The Forecast> The Man Who Invented Sin> Mighty River> Like a Buddha, Elko
Encore: I’ve Just Seen a Face, Bird in a House
Note: Kyle joined on The Hunting Song and stayed for the remainder of the show.
The audience recording is available on ARCHIVE, thanks to Gerry Gladu for posting.
The first stet ebbed and flowed as far as the energy level was concerned. The 16 and up age limit made for an interesting mix in the crowd. From screaming x-handed noobs to old deadheads, the fanbase was as diverse as the music performed. The rolling and tumbling Lordy, Lordy got everyone’s juices flowing. The Bread and Water succeeded keeping the vibe at a fever pitch before the Little Bit O’ Me deflated the room a bit. Musically, Railroad Earth sounded as tight as I’ve seen them, but without the urgency of their opening set at Red Rocks this summer. They meandered into the show with a confidence and comfort often reserved for night two of three-night runs. Carbone played the fiddle beautifully on Stillwater Getaway, jumping back and forth between an almost symphonic presentation and an outright hoedown. Kyle Hollingsworth took his place at the keys on The Hunting Song. Kyle added the ragtime feel of an old-timey saloon. Inherently there are certain gaps in RRE’s sound; them being a Newgrass band, Kyle’s keys filled them in nicely. It was great to see Andrew Altman really stepping it up on bass. He alternated between electric and standup and really seemed to be finding his footing in the band. I was also truly impressed with Sheaffer’s vocals, which went from clean and crisp to almost Dylanesque as in Said What You Mean. They closed the set with a raucous sing-along on Long Way To Go.
The second set overall had a much more consistent flow and vibe. Railroad eased into set two with a bouncy and scenic Old Man and the Land before ripping into a massive 18 minute Head. The jamming showed some serious tightness and ability from all of the members including Kyle. Everyone was ready to lock in and take the ride. They ripped into a Kyle-led version of Billy Preston’s Will It Go Round in Circles. The haunting melody of The Forecast segued into the instrumental The Man Who Invented Sin. The Mighty River went quickly before RRE exploded into a powerful Like A Buddha. Againg clocking in at over 18 minutes this was by far the highlight of the entire show. They closed the second set with an equally strong Elko. It was like the band just turned on the turbo boosters on the last four songs of the show.
They encored with a quick I’ve Just Seen a Face and fun Bird in a House. The crowd left happy and energized from this stellar show. While the first set came on slower, the second set, particularly the end, more than made up for it. As we exited into the cold night of Denver we were stoked on the whole experience. Railroad Earth has a habit of performing remarkably. They have such a strong fanbase and have continued to play exceptional shows out on the Front Range, that I see nothing but good things for them. I was happy to catch a night of RRE’s New Year’s run and would recommend that everyone do the same. However, it was time to head home because I opted to see The Motet and Euforquestra for New Year’s Eve in Fort Collins. That would prove to be another solid choice.
Cornmeal decided to make yet another pilgrimage to the great state of Colorado before 2011 wound its way down the drain of life. They were doing a two night run hitting The Aggie and The Fox before gearing up for their December run on the east coast. I got a chance to sit down with Wavy Dave and Chris Gangi from Cornmeal before the show. It was a great conversation about everything from their new release of Live In Chicago Volume 2 and their upcoming studio album to Summer Camp and New Year’s runs. It was an enlightening talk and we will be featuring some our conversation in video form as well as on our MusicMarauders Live podcast next month.
Magic Beans, who currently call Boulder their home, are an eclectic mix of all things jam. I listened to some of their tracks online before the show and I was struck by their prowess with acoustic songs. At the Aggie, it was immediately apparent that they were young. They had solid musicianship, but other than their Rocky Top opener, they seemed to stray away from the sound that had drawn me to them in the first place. I will say that their second song, Band Camp, was like a washing machine full of jam on the spin cycle. It was a fifteen-minute opus that showed the wide variety of their skills. They ended their set with some Bisco sounding playing that, given the fact that they were opening for Cornmeal, seemed a bit out of place. Given the fact of their age, I was impressed with their musicianship and I look forward to seeing them evolve as a group. With a little more focus, they could powerful force on the jam circuit.
Cornmeal took the Aggie stage around 10:45 PM and jumped into a high-energy hoedown that was like watching a bluegrass volcano erupt before my eyes. Cornmeal always brings the heat in Colorado. Something about the altitude or the water out here just inspires them musically. They have become so well known out here as a band that always delivers live that they usually draw quite the crowd. A decent audience was in attendance for a Thursday night show in Fort Collins. They opted for one long set playing almost two and a half hours rather than breaking it up. Allie shredded the violin like a female bluegrass version of Hendrix. Wavy Davy showed some of his skills on the banjo and he nailed some back and fort between himself and Kris. Highlights from the show included a very nice Out Here On My Own and a Magic Stone Mountain that would get even the most jaded fan dancing in the aisle. As they were about to wrap up the set they surprised the crowd with a beautiful version of John Lennon’s Watching The Wheels.
They encored with a huge This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) by the Talking Heads and Townes Van Zandt’s White Freight Liner Blues. It was a great close to an amazing show from Cornmeal. They bring so much to their live shows by creating a palpable energy in any room they play, and upping the ante for any other jamgrass band touring today. They are a fearless group that, through their twelve plus years of playing together, have become so comfortable in that they are willing to take chances and push it to the limit. Their show at the Aggie was no exception and I will continue to look forward to their regular visits to Colorado.