Euforquestra has traveled through the murky waters of change and emerged triumphant and unscathed. Musically, the adversity of loosing a founding member could be enough to rock the very foundation on which any band is built. This is not the case with Euforquestra. They continue to tour relentlessly and are currently celebrating their tenth year on the road. The one two punch of Craig Babineau on drums and Scott Mast on percussion have become the new foundation on which Euforquestra is plowing ahead. Both have rock solid licks reminiscent of the Joimoe/Trucks combo when they push past the Southern Rock and into the World Funk. Matt Wright on keys has truly stepped up and has wholeheartedly embraced playing the front man singing with a silky demeanor that really pleases. With Jeter recently becoming a father, his time on stage has been limited, which means there have been a number of local players who have sat in on second sax. This has allowed for a freshness to seep into their overall sound and it leaves room for the unexpected. One unexpected turn was their headlining set at Hodi’s Half Note.
It has been two years since their last rendezvous at this Fort Collins establishment. With headlining gigs at the Aggie and all around Colorado it was a real treat to see them playing a smaller room. The night began with Rudie Clash, a Dubskin side project featuring lead singer Jamal Skinner and keyboardist Jason Wieseler in a strange amalgamation of roots reggae and dub sonic sounds… but we’ll get to that in a minute. I arrived as Jet Edison was hitting the stage with their original “Gold.”
Set I: Gold, Places, Style Of The Times, Wasted, Simon, Wading Through The Rubble, Burn This Disco Out*, Undercover
*w/ Austin Zaletel on Sax
This tight four-piece from Boulder knows how to rock. Lead by keyboardist Phil Johnson who will occasionally pull out a trumpet too. They are a convincing jam powerhouse to say the least. With a new album due out this year, they have plenty to prove. Touring with enthusiasm, it’s impossible to go more than a couple months without catching them live here in Colorado. These four formed a bond in college through late night jam sessions and lots of time on the road. That bond is evident in their transitions and in songs like “Wading Through The Rubble,” which takes on a driving swing feel as they navigate the debris. They tossed it back with a version of Michael Jackson’s “Burn This Disco Out,” with Austin Zaletel sitting in on sax before ending the show with “Undercover.”
The setbreak was filled in with self-proclaimed “ugly” music producers Rudie Clash consisting of Jamal and Jason from Dubskin. They too are on the cusp of releasing a new album and have developed a wholly unique sound. To say that I enjoyed it as much as seeing Dubskin would be an untruth. Jamal is a true showman and will always engage his audience with his bombastic style. That being said this blend of electronic dub and his vocals was a bit jarring. If you are a fan of roots reggae blend and electronica I would recommend you check them out.
As Euforquestra took the stage I found myself wondering why the room was only half full. With finals approaching and many students getting ready to head home for the summer perhaps they just opted out of going. This was the wrong choice. What followed was a two-hour blast through all the things that make me love this band. Opening with “Backbone” Euforquestra started the night like a freight train.
Set 1: Backbone, Cause A Reaction, Milk & Honey, Obatala, Called You, Yogi’s Day Out, The Events of December 11, Solutions*, Madison Square**, Nausea, 64:18, Price Is Right, Instant Coffee, Dr. Standby
Encore: All Light, Hang Ups
*w/ Jamal Skinner on Vocals
**w/ Phil Johnson on Trumpet and Nick on Saxophone
This was a hometown show with the warm feel of a family throw down. Huge versions of “Cause A Reaction” and “Obatala” got the show moving. They pulled out a classic Euforquestra tune “Called You,” which was originally sung by Matt Grundstad and is now crooned by keyboardist Matt Wright. Wright’s vocals can simply be described as clean. He just nails it. “Yogi’s Day Out” was a blast, but “December 11” really sucked in the crowd. They brought out Jamal to sing on “Solutions” before inviting Phil and Nick to fill out the horn section on the instrumental cover of “Madison Square.” They rounded out an epic set with a 1-2-3 punch or originals culminating with an immense set-closing “Dr. Standby.” This show had everything a music fan could want. Hard hitting percussion backing a world approach to music that has been the hallmark of Euforquestra since the beginning. They closed with a two-song encore that included a great version of “Hang Ups.” Through thick and thin Euforquestra perseveres and continues to create amazing music and incredible live performances across the country. The next time they come to your town get out and make sure you bring your dancing shoes.
Few people have so mastered an instrument as Bela Fleck has the banjo. In fact the man is so synonymous with this instrument that words like master and genius almost fall short in their simplicity. From the time he was first inspired listening to the Earl Scruggs’ recording of The Beverly Hillbillies Theme Song to his time with The New Grass Revival to forming The Flecktones it’s difficult to think of anyone who has been more innovative with their instrument. Fleck has been nominated for a Grammy in more musical categories than anyone and all with the banjo. Having just toured through town with the Flecktones he made a return visit this time for an ‘Inside The Score’ session with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.
Having seen Trey Anastasio perform with the CSO last year I thought it would be a relatively similar experience. I was wrong. Firstly, despite the fact that this concert played host to a living legend the room was only about half sold out. Secondly, the crowd was more along the lines of season ticket holders rather than rabid live music fans. The result being that other than some boisterous coughing from a few souls trying to get over their spring colds, the 2600 person room was utterly quiet. This was a benefit and a curse. It was nice to be able to focus on the music and really listen, the bad was that a single click of my DSLR seemed to echo to the point of absurdity. The result was that I took all of one picture before putting my camera away amongst a few sideway glances and glaring stares.
The night began sans Fleck with an orchestrated version of Pat Methany’s “Minuano” which featured a dual time signature we were told to listen for by conductor Scott O’Neil. Fleck wowed audiences with his take on Bach and Debussy. One of the real highlights of the first set was a banjo led rendition of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” The delicacy and attention to detail that Fleck demonstrates at times made the humble banjo seem otherworldly. The peak of the set came in the form of a piece written by Bela Fleck and dubbed “Crooked Run” which was simply an all out jam between himself and Claude Sim on violin. They finished prior to intermission with what would be the only Flecktones original “The Landing” with the full orchestration. After a short break Bela Fleck returned with a much longer composed piece entitled “The Imposter.” All in all it was a beautiful night at the symphony. Bela Fleck continues to demonstrate why he is at the height of his instrument and why he is not to be missed in any capacity when he is performing. Bela is simply mind blowing and it’s always incredible to me that he continually stuns audiences with an instrument that was long thought of as Appalachian jabberwocky. Fleck has risen the level of the banjo on par with the violin and the French horn as far as I’m concerned. He ended the night with a meet and greet in the lobby, but we opted to head home with visions of banjer in our head.
Check out the video here: http://youtu.be/0XuoazFvcJs
Sometimes things happen. To the dismay of fans that traveled over a thousand miles to see their hometown favorites Old Shoe in Colorado, their first show of the run at Hodi’s Halfnote was postponed. A combination of three days of blizzard and cancelled flights contributed to the decision, but people were certainly disappointed. Personally I had been looking forward to the show for months, and given their place as renowned Summer Camp alumni, I was excited to see them live. CIT Dave Weckstein was traveling with the band and I met him early for some dinner and a beer. We were just finishing up when Hodi’s posted that they would not be having the show. I was baffled because the three days of blizzard had finally subsided and the sun was actually out. Understanding that they had many friends in town Old Shoe arranged to play in their hotel lobby at Cambria Suites at 10 PM. Word spread fast and as Dave put it, it was time for a “Party at the Moontower.” So feeling it was appropriate I donned my pajamas and headed down. The 3-piece consisted of Greg Fundis, Joe Day, and Matt Robinson. The lobby was an unassuming place for the random assemblage of Shoe fans that filtered in. They had a nicely stocked bar and I have to believe that the hotel sold more drinks than they ever had with about twenty or so fans refilling regularly. They opened with an acoustic jam on “Loco Motive.”
Acoustic: Loco Motive, Dust Bowl, Take That Road, How Mountain Girls Can Love
Electric: Day Rains Night, Family
For those that are unfamiliar, Old Shoe is an up and coming acoustic tinged jam band. They can pretty much do it all and they are a tight group with lots of talent. After the first song they slid their chairs up to be closer to the fans scattered on couches and chair throughout the lobby. The highlight was their take on The Stanley Brothers’ “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” The boys moved back to the electric set up and ripped through a couple more originals before we were told it was all over. With the hotel at 95% occupancy the sound had drifted up a couple floors and some of the patrons were none too happy. So after an awesome version of “Night Family.” The hotel asked them to stop. What did we expect really? I think the fact that Old Shoe even attempted this says a lot about their character and their dedication to their fans. I certainly appreciated it and it proves to me how special it is to live in Colorado where music seems to always find a way… for a little while at the least.
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.
Jennifer Hartswick discusses everything from TAB at Summer Camp to her latest album The Ocean Floor. She is a force to be reckoned with at the festival, taking part in multiple sets with a wide array of artists throughout the weekend. She dives into her first experience at Summer Camp as a patron not a performer and how that began her infatuation with this Midwest tradition. Take a look.
The world renowned drummer of the Grateful Dead Mickey Hart came to town for a MusicMarauders Presents show at The Oriental Theater in the Highlands of Denver. Mickey and his band, which includes Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools along with Crystal Monee Hall on vocals, Joe Bagale on vocals, guitar, and keys, Gawain Matthews on guitar, Sikiru Adepoju on the talking drum, and Greg Schutte on kit, were in the midst of a three blast across Colorado. With stops in Boulder, Denver, and Aspen as part of larger spring tour, the band was in fine form for a Friday night on the Front Range.
There was an issue online with the posted show times causing many including myself to arrive a full two hours prior to the doors opening. There was a large drum circle across the street from the venue and it being First Friday, we warmed up in a gallery. When the doors finally opened we were still a full hour away from the African Showboyz taking the stage. The story goes that Mickey was going to take part in a drum circle / workshop that was cancelled at the last minute. I thought given the circumstances Mickey should have made his way across the street to the aforementioned drum circle and jammed for the early arrivers.
That did not happen.
Up first was a group hailing all the way from a small village in Ghana, West Africa. The only description appropriate for this group of four brothers is stunning. The African Showboyz utilizing traditional instrumentation including the bind douk, bin bill and the tonton sanson, and incorporating customary dances that were simply jaw-dropping to watch live. They are touring ambassadors whose primary mission is to spread “recognition for the suffrage of the African people.” Performing Bob Marley classics such as “Redemption Song” alongside the songs of their native village made it all very approachable. The driving rhythm of the drums accompanied by the poetic voices of the Sabbah brothers was absolutely mesmerizing. They finished their breathtaking set with a simple dance and salute to the crowd. My only issue was that they performed behind the headliners rig, which seemed weird to me. The Mickey Hart Band made their way to the stage shortly after 10 PM. They jumped right into the muddy goodness with a huge “Shakedown Street” opener.
Set 1: Shakedown Street> Starlight Starbright> Franklin’s Tower> Bully Boy> Bird Song> Magic Wand> Fire On The Mountain
Set 2: Samson & Delilah> Slow Joe Rain> Playing In The Band> Morning Of The World> Playin’ Reprise> Supersonic Vision> Cut The Deck> China Cat Sunflower> I Know You Rider
Encore: Brokedown Palace
Thanks to Corey and Kind Recordings for posting the show on ARCHIVE.
The overall show was a solid mix of MHB originals and standard Grateful Dead. Hall seemed to take primary vocal duties on the majority of the songs giving an entirely new feel to some of the classic tunes. At times it was jarring, but her powerful vocals won me over in the end. Tucked in the back of the stage was Schools who even added his voice to the backup mic a few times throughout the night. Mickey stood flanked by his 360-degree personal drum monstrosity, which included electronic drum pads hooked to an array of effects. “Franklin’s Tower” was a beautiful addition to the set as the kaleidoscope lights danced on the ceiling of the historic theater. “Magic Wand” their original, was truly an energetic high. They closed with the much-expected “Fire On The Mountain.”
The second set started perfectly well with a tight version of “Samson & Delilah,” but it quickly fell apart with the alternative sounding “Slow Joe Rain.” As they were playing, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief. I can understand a band wanting to sound current, but this was current circa 1992, and just felt totally out of place. MHB quickly redeemed themselves with an extended take on “Playing In The Band” that featured “Morning Of The World” as the meat of the jam. They finished the set with a huge “China Cat” “Rider” that was enough to make any Dead fan happy. Mickey and Friends encored with a lovely “Brokedown Palace.”
It was just a solid show from a band that appears to be finding its stride. Much like Billy’s band 7 Walkers, Mickey is using his golden years to make his own mark and write his own musical chapter. None of the living members of the Grateful Dead have anything to prove, they’ve done it all and they’ve paved the way. Now, they have earned the chance to relax, perform, or not perform. Each show is a blessing and a chance to celebrate the music of the Grateful Dead. Go out and celebrate.
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.