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.
For the majority of my posts I focus on bands that have played Summer Camp in the past. For this post I’d like to focus on a band that should play Summer Camp. The fact is that they are a midwestern bluegrass powerhouse, so it only makes sense for them to be at Summer Camp. That band is Trampled By Turtles.
Trampled By Turtles is a band I have been enamored with for quite some time. Despite my interest in their music and styling I was unable to catch them live, until just recently. They have a different approach to bluegrass in general. They are slampickers, playing a hard-hitting, at times startling method of bluegrass that shreds faster than some speed metal groups. They juxtapose this with some slower more traditional songs, but minced grass is their forte. Needless to say Trampled By Turtles has continued to gain popularity in Colorado, as they regularly return and almost always sell out their shows. Both nights at the Ogden were completely packed which made for tense maneuvering throughout the night.
I headed down early to see the opener honeyhoney. Other than checking out a somewhat odd music video, featuring a series of assassinations, I really knew nothing about them. Hailing from Los Angeles, honeyhoney originally formed as a duo consisting of Susanne Santo and Ben Jaffe before forming a full band. They seem to be treading a thin line between a Lucinda Williams(esque) singing and flat out alt-country. They also incorporated elements of folk and rock into their set, but during their show it wasn’t obvious that they were a great fit opening for Trampled By Turtles. Honeyhoney opened up the show around 9:15 with their original “Numb It” The clear highlight of the show was a full band sit-in from Trampled on the song from the aforementioned video, “Angel Of Death.” Their show was relatively slow given whom they were playing with, but overall honeyhoney demonstrated some solid musicianship and unique songwriting.
Trampled By Turtles took the stage for one long set around 10:30 PM. By this time the room was ass to elbow with everyone squeezing in snugly. They opened with a sweet rendition of “Alone.” From the beginning it was apparent that although they know traditional bluegrass they don’t let it define them. They are innovators and lovers of string music as they prove every time they take the stage. It wouldn’t take long for them to blast off and begin the night’s prerequisite shredding. I did notice that their songs individually lacked any sort of real dynamics. Most of their tunes start at one speed and continue at that pace until the last pluck. It appears to me that Trampled By Turtles builds tension and release through their setlists as opposed to within the context of their individual songs. It was definitely a different experience for say someone used to listening to the Grateful Dead. Their picking was solid no matter which tempo they set and I found my eyes were glued to the stage for much of the evening. A couple of covers came in the form of a bouncy “Sloop John B” by the Beach Boys and “Where Is My Mind” by the Pixies. Both covers were unusual choices and executed very well. The setlist gave their fans a wide array of their repertoire. This little band from Minnesota has really made good, and they will continue to draw bigger audiences as word of their amazing style spreads. If you find yourself with the opportunity to see Trampled By Turtles in some small smoky room, go ahead, punch the ticket, and take the ride.
Kyle Hollingsworth has taken part in a wide array of events at Summer Camp. From sitting in with moe. on “Happy Hour Hero” to hosting a seminar on brewing beer, he’s definitely a welcomed guest at the festival. Back near his home in Boulder, Colorado it’s becoming a winter tradition that Kyle takes a trip down the Front Range sharing good music and first-class beer. This year he upped the ante by including Soulive as well as a couple fresh brews. He warmed up for two nights in Denver by bringing Eric Krasno to sit in for the show at Hodi’s in Fort Collins. Kyle also brought a variation on Avery’s dry-hopped Winter Day IPA that he collaborated on with the brewery. It was a spicy ale, balanced by an abundance of hoppy goodness. It’s definitely a nice holiday beer.
Video Link – http://youtu.be/tJdcdEImhEE
Show two from moe. was on the dock and ready to jump into the icy lake that is the Ogden. After a strange first night I was ready for a more chill experience and some classic jamming from one of my favorite bands. I spent the day playing some disc golf and then lounging at the Rockmada before heading to dinner and then the show. It was a nice relaxing day that got us ready to rage one more night. Local favorites The Congress had been selected to fill the opening slot. Ironically the first time I saw The Congress was opening up for moe. a few years back in Breckenridge. Lead by the powerful vocals and bass of Jonathan Meadows, the band is now striped down into a power trio with Scott Lane on guitar and Mark Levy on kit. Scott gyrates wildly onstage ashe sets fire to the neck of the guitar. It’s great to see a rock outfit of this caliber playing in utter synchronicity. Again making the most of their forty-five minute slot, they performed a scorching set that saw an early “Jonah Gideon” energize the crowd. There seemed to be more early arrivers on night two. Perhaps people got the message from a solid set from YAMN on night one. The highlight of their set was a sweet version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” that really demonstrated Meadows’ range as a singer. He can deliver a grumbled rock voice on one song and the sing a delicate blues number on the next go. He is one of my favorite Denver singers to see live right now. They also premiered a new song entitled “When I’ve Got The Time,” which was a rockabilly number that sounded fantastic. The Congress’ set was over as soon as it began and it was time for two more from moe.
moe. opened with the Rob sung “Paper Dragon;” this track while relatively new is a great vehicle for tight riffing and fun interplay.
Set I: Paper Dragon> Happy Hour Hero, Big World> Ricky Marten> Where Does The Time Go?, Water> Haze
Set II: Skrunk> Shoot First, Y.O.Y, Spine Of A Dog> So Long> Wicked Awesome, Sticks and Stone> Spaz Medicine, Plane Crash
Encore: Zed Nought Z> Time Ed
Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting the recording on Archive.
They went into the fan favorite “Happy Hour Hero” that became a massive sing along. It was a smooth way to ease into the set before a nice but quick “Big World.” It was obvious that they were beginning with a quicker pace as opposed to the spaced out playing we witnessed on night one. The segues as always were clean especially so during the transition in and out of “Ricky Marten.” “Where Does The Time Go?” was a late set breather before a ridiculous “Water” ignited the fuse. Chuck’s graceful guitar licks hypnotized the audience. “Water” was the first extended jamming of the evening but never really getting too far off the beaten path. They ended the set with a stellar “Haze” that seemed fit in that spot like a well-time Tetris line.
moe. began the second set with a rowdy “Skrunk” that featured some the most intense jamming of the night. Chuck settled everyone down with a bouncy “Shoot First” before moe. pulled out the now classic “Y.O.Y’. moe. continues to be one of the tightest bands touring today. The longevity of the project has really allowed all of the members of the band to meld musically in a way that should be the standard. There are very few of groups in the scene who can say they have been around for over twenty years with not one serious breakup or extended hiatus. They treated fans to another standard with a quick “Spine Of A Dog” that a utilized a riff on Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse” (Better known as the “Assembly Line Song”) as the segue into “Wicked Awesome.” Al killed it on “W.A.” which is tribute to the radio that shaped his love of music. “Sticks and Stones” is a personal favorite, so it was nice to see it in the mix. “Spaz Medicine” was well executed, but the “Plane Crash” was by far the best jam of the night. Reaching over fourteen minutes, it was an invigorating take on “PC” in its traditional set closing spot.
moe. encored with a very tranquil “Zed Naugh Z” before absolutely jumping over the edge with a huge “Time Ed.” All in all this was a very nice show although somewhat more bottled than night one at times. These two shows demonstrate the versatility that moe. has with each and every outing. They can walk stage and play four songs for an hour and a half or deliver fifteen-song sets. Each one of their tunes is like a piece of play dough that they can stretch or shrink based on their needs for that particular time and place. Much of that comes from their endurance as a band over time. moe. has already announced initial lineups for both Summer Camp and moe.down. Both look incredibly promising and if other festivals follow suit, we’ll be looking at another amazing summer of music. Wait what month is it? …
moe. made their jubilant return to Denver, as makeup for two missed shows in July. Their drummer Vinnie Amico came down with a case of mono, and they had to postponed several shows at the end of the summer tour. The wait was long but worthwhile, as the shows added openers for both nights that included local favorites YAMN and The Congress.
YAMN has been in Jam Band Purgatory and are just back from a yearlong hiatus. New to the group is Paul Evans on keyboards, which is part of the reason for the extended absence from the scene. One would expect some jitters or general nervousness from the band considering the time since their last show. Quite the opposite was true, with YAMN coming out as the consummate showmen and blasting through a smoking opening set.
Set I: Burner, Apparition, Floating Leave, Low Gravity, Ricochet, Home Sweet Home^
^w Chuck Garvey
As the opener for a band like moe., it’s important to hit it hard. With lots of potential new fans in the audience and only forty-five minutes to play, it’s important to make an impression quickly. That’s exactly what Yamn did at the Ogden. Soaring through the various sounds of jam and incorporating riff-y electronic effects, YAMN wowed the early arrivers. They proved to the crowd that they are still a force to contend with on the local scene. Given their absence they couldn’t have asked for a better show to reintroduce themselves to the hometown crowd. The highlight was a Chuck Garvey sit-in on Motely Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” Yamn is known for their random covers of classic rock tunes, but this was an unexpected treat.
After a short set break the five guys named moe. took the stage looking a bit more Grizzly Adams than usual. Al stepped up to his guitar donning a salt and pepper beard and Rob came out looking generally unshaven. They opened with a classic “Graffenberg.”
Set I: Dr. Graffenberg, Hi and Lo> The Pit, Not Coming Down> Wormwood> Deep This Time, Recreational Chemistry
Set II: Silver Sun> Puebla> Interstellar Overdrive> Head, Awesome Gary> Brent Black*
ENCORE: Four> The Ghost Of Ralph’s Mom
*Rob Teased the “Peanuts Theme Song” during his bass solo while wearing a Storm Trooper mask.
Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting the recording on Archive.
“DG” stretched on into the realm of spacey with a huge solo from Al before the song melted down into a pleasant “Hi and Lo.” I like this set placement, it was a bit of a step back from “Graffenberg,” but it fit in nicely. From there they broke into the darkly, stunning “The Pit.” By this point I had made it back from the photo pit to Amy and company located to the right of the soundboard. There was an over enthused girl to my right who upon my arrival collapsed into a seizure. Amy and I caught her and braced her as several slacked-jawed gawkers gazed on in bewilderment. I finally said, “Someone go get help,” at which point the girl snapped awake and a yellow jacketed security guard took her away. Not the best way to start a show. The familiar beat of “Not Coming Down” brought the show back into focus before the band took a mid-set breather with a classy “Wormwood.” From the tranquil solitude of “Wormwood” the band emerged with Rob taking the microphone on a straightforward “Deep This Time.” “Recreational Chemistry” was anything but straightforward. Stretching on to almost 25 minutes, and again seeing Al participating in an absolute shred fest, and Jim killing it on the vibes; it was an amazing way to end the first set. One can only assume that the extended “Rec Chem” was a nod to the recent passing of Amendment 64 in Colorado.
moe. came back with a gorgeous “Silver Sun” that morphed into an dark rhythmic back and forth. The hallmark of the second set would be long jams with limited singing. It really felt like the boys just wanted to play. “Puebla” reached the ten-minute mark and continued on the darker path. moe. followed up with a massive version of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.” This was a track they used to play a lot in the mid to late nineties and gets tossed into the rotation a couple times a year. It’s always a nice song to catch and this version just builds spectacularly. “Head” exploded out of the Syd Barrett classic with the .rons going nuts., but “Awesome Gary” into “Brent Black” was the highlight of the entire show. The “Brent Black” featured a nice drum solo before Rob returned to the stage, donned a Storm Trooper mask, and delivered one of the most amazing bass solos I’ve seen from him. His solo included a holiday wink to the crowd in the form a “Peanuts Theme Song” tease. The band returned to the stage to finish out “BB” and thus the second set.
moe. came back with a tasty “Four” into a brief “The Ghost of Ralph’s Mom” encore to end the first night at The Ogden. With the opener moe. pushed right up against the 2 AM curfew, but managed to squeak this one out at the buzzer. This was a solid show that ventured into the realm of space and deep jam throughout both sets. It definitely felt like the show for the fans. Night two would prove to be a show more suited for the masses.
Euforquestra returned to Fort Collins for a hometown show at the Aggie with friends Roster McCabe and D. Bess. Both Euforquestra and D. Bess have performed at Summer Camp. In FoCo Euforquestra historically has been a solid draw, but the venue never completely filled in on Friday. D. Bess is the former lead singer of Iowa City reggae outfit Public Property. He currently performs as a solo project utilizing loops and his diverse skills as a multi-instrumentalist. Playing a blend of originals and covers, he slowly built up each song one riff at a time. Having seen D. Bess before, I have to say that he as come a long way with his looping skills. His performance lasted just under an hour before he gave up the mic for Minneapolis’ Roster McCabe.
Roster McCabe is an amalgamation of jam. They blend elements of soul and funk with electronic, dance, and rock. The band has been making regular jaunts out to Colorado for years now, and continues to energize audiences throughout the country.
SET I: The Traveler, MMM, Spark A Light, Paper Crowns, Speed, Regulate, Stargazer, Take A Breath
Their one-hour set blasted by rather quickly leaving some fans wanting more. The silky vocals of Alex Steele washed over the crowd, as their consistent rhythm section made up of Jeff Peterson and Scot Muellenberg stayed tight throughout the set. This allowed for some incredible interplay between the guitarists. They ran the gamut alternating between funky break beats and an all out electro dance party. The powerful and progressive “Paper Crowns” acted as the anchor point of the set, but the funky, retro “Stargazer” was the highlight.
After a short intermission Euforquestra took the stage around 11:30 PM. They opened with a nasty version of Herbie Hancock’s “Hang Up Your Hangups.”
SET I: Hang Up Your Hangups, Let’s Dance> Called You, Hopscotch, Road Funk, Solutions, Price Is Right, Obatala> Change Me, The Events of December 11, Instant Coffee, Cause A Reaction, Dr. Standby> Sexx Laws
ENCORE: Yogi’s Day Out
You can download the show at http://archive.org/details/euf2012-10-06.mk41.flac16. Thanks to Eric Wilkens for posting.
Euforquestra is currently undergoing some changes. With the departure of original percussionist Matt Grundstad and bassist Ben Soltau, there has been a shift in the rhythm section. With Grosso moving back over to bass and newcomer Craig Babineau replacing him on kit, they were joined by yet another fresh face, Scott Mast on percussion. With all of the changes you would think that it would have a distinct effect on their sound, however I was amazed at how well they played together. A vocal rise gave way to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” which really woke up the crowd and got the night going. The bouncy “Called You” broke down into riff-.y “Hopscotch” which really gave guitarist Mike Tallman a chance to rip it up for the audience. Fan favorite “Road Funk” was a nice addition to the set, with a huge “Solutions” waiting in the wings. The energy-infused “Obatala” into “Change Me” was yet another highlight in this non-stop dance party. This band has the ability to shoot out of the gate like a bunny-crazed greyhound, or step it back into a funky groove that soothes the soul. “December 11” has become another standard from Euforquestra, but the building groove of “Instant Coffee” was a nice change of pace. They ended the set with “Dr. Standby” into Beck’s “Sexx Laws. Euforquestra performed the music of Beck at this year’s Camp Eurforia and have been sneaking his songs into their setlists from time to time ever since. They are doing a Halloween tour featuring Beck’s music at the end of the month as well. They encored the show with Ross Martin’s “Yogi’s Day Out.” This was definitely an eclectic show from Euforquestra with a little bit of everything. They pulled out a few covers and showed that even with some changes in personnel that they will continue to play well and in a manner that fans have come to expect.
Dancin’ In The Streets featured so many Summer Camp bands, that it might has well have been the Denver version of the festival. In actuality SCamp stalwarts Cornmeal, Greensky Bluegrass, as well as classic veterans like Jerry Garcia Band with Melvin Seals all played this fest on the Lawrence St. After three years in absentia, the Dancin’ In The Streets Music Festival made its triumphant return to Denver. It’s no secret that the high cost of putting on the inaugural festival as well as the low turnout cost Jay dearly. It was the impetus for him to letting go of Cervantes and the downsize to Sancho’s and Quixote’s. Over the past few years Quixote’s has become a hub of live music and is the home of the greatest patio in Denver. It is also the new home of the Dancin’ In The Streets.
The entire scope of the event is more doable and smart. Closing off the 2100 block of Lawrence Street with a nicely equipped stage and an Oskar Blues beer truck bookending the block was the perfect setup. Vendors and Live Painters dotted the sidewalks and both the main stage and patio stage of Quixote’s acted as auxiliary performance spaces for the event. Quite simply it all worked and the masses turned out on both days to show their support.
I arrived, as WhiteWater Ramble was finishing up their opening set on the 3rd. I have to say that after Adam Galblum departed from the band I was left with reservations. However the inclusion of Ben Blechman on fiddle certainly impressed me. As a band they’ve always had it in them to be a powerful bluegrass experience, but honestly they have failed to rise to the top over recent years. Their show at Dancin’ In The Streets showed they are ready for a new chapter and to start playing stellar performances across Colorado.
Up next was Grant Farm on the patio. Under the direction of Tyler Grant, Grant Farm has continued to wow audiences on the Front Range and beyond.
One Set: Green Grant, I Come From The Country, (Ain’t No) Nuthin’ Gonna Stop This Train, High Country Ladies, Engineer (w/Andy Griffith Theme), Ballad Of A Well-Known Gun, The Hippie Guitar, Green Thumb, The Times Have Changed, ?, Tell Me, Tell Me, My Old Engine, San Ber’dino
Gerry Gladu posted the show on Archive.
Their attention to songwriting and detail while playing are the reason why they continue to shine. One of the Highlights from their set included “(Ain’t No) Nothing Gonna Stop This Train,” which is more of an affirmation about the band than a song title. There was also a group whistling of the Andy Griffith Theme Song in honor of the actor’s death that was a nice moment for everyone involved.
There was some overlap with Grant Farm and Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia Band, but around 6 PM I headed out to the main stage. Melvin Seals is a monster on the keys but during the beginning of his set he felt a little more subdued in the mix. Even during “Johnny Too Bad” he just seemed very light, however during “Sugaree” he exploded on the organ. Dave Hebert on guitar had incredibly accurate tone and was an absolute pleasure to watch play. I was also surprised to see Jimmy Tebeau on bass, I’ve know Jimmy since my freshman year of college as a member of Dead cover band The Schwag. He drives the bus, and it was a great chance to get reconnected with him. The show also featured a massive Deal that was enough to get the crowd dancing in the streets.
Next on the docket was California’s Poor Man’s Whiskey. Famous for covering Pink Floyd with their down home version of Dark Side of The Moon, their original music is a classic blend of rock and bluegrass. Musically they are incredibly talented and the vocals of Josh Brough are tinted with a warm vibrancy that is truly inviting. They were a great touch and I caught them for a while before heading back to the Main Stage for Greensky Bluegrass.
Greensky is one of the premiere young bluegrass acts out there. Along the lines of Head For The Hills, these boys from Michigan bring the heat with every performance. A classic string band lineup with all of the bases covered their inclusion in the festival was a big draw for the crowd, which had swelled to around 1600 people by this point. Their show was a bit laid back, but they busted out some great tunes to keep the audience engaged. “Bottle Dry” and “Broke Mountain Breakdown” were a ton of fun. They ended their set with a bluegrass version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.”
During Greensky’s set I headed into the patio for a bit to see Todd Shaeffer and Friends. The Friends included Railroad Earth’s Andrew Altman on bass and Great American Taxi’s Chris Sheldon on a banjo drum contraption. This was a folk-infused experience that seemed like a toned down version of RRE. Todd is an impeccable guitarist and gentle vocalist, however this show just seemed very low key. The talent on the stage would seem to lend itself to some serious picking, but what we got was a very chill encounter. They played beautifully, but at this point in the evening I was searching for more energy.
That energy came in the form of Big Wu on the main stage inside. The Big Wu was a band that I first saw in 2000 and noticed enormous potential in their playing. They fell off the map for several years but recently they have been coming back to Colorado and playing really well. Their most recent addition of Mark Joseph on guitar has seemed to reinvigorate this band of twenty plus years. This is the band that opened the first Bonnaroo, so to see them back onstage was a personal highlight for me. They opened with a version of Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” that felt like an extension of their sound check and also entirely appropriate.
SET I: Could You Be Loved, House of Wu, Gimme A Raise, Oxygen> Midnight Rudy, Bloodhound, Save Our Ship> Time, Ophelia
Corey and Kind Recordings posted the show on Archive at http://www-tracey.archive.org/details/bigwu2012-07-03.mtx.kindrec
This was a classic Big Wu experience with awesome versions of classic tunes “Gimme A Raise” and “Midnight Rudy.” All in all it was great to see them back at it and really sounding tight.
I hopped outside for a bit to see Conspirator, which is a side project of The Disco Biscuits featuring Mark Brownstein and Aaron Magner. From the first notes of their performance to the end almost two hours later they didn’t stop. They are an electronic dance party powerhouse and it was an interesting catch at this diverse festival.
The late night event had arrived as the crowd moved indoors for Octopus Nebula and the main event, Cornmeal.
Cornmeal never fails to deliver in Colorado. They are incredibly fun and are ridiculous pickers. I was stoked that they were integrated in the lineup not once but twice. Their show on the patio was a solid demonstration of what they are capable of. They went all the way to just before 2 AM on the packed porch. They played a beautiful bluegrass set and it was a great way to close out day one of Dancin’ In The Streets.
I woke up slightly hung over and caught an early cab down to day two at Quixote’s. I arrived early as The Congress was getting the nascent crowd ready. It’s always difficult to be one of the first bands on the bill because only the hardcore will be in attendance. Being a huge fan of this rock outfit and Jonathan Meadows’ vocals, I knew I could miss it. These guys have paired down to a three-piece since the last time I saw them live. Highlights from the show included a rousing “Jonah Gideon” and a powerful “Keep Virginia.” It was an excellent start to my second day on Lawrence Street.
All of the early shows were on the Main Stage outside meaning there was some time allotted to change out equipment. It gave the fans plenty of instance to leisurely melt into the day. Greensky Bluegrass was up next, and their set was just better than the night before. Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the energy, but Greensky brought the boil on day two. It was a fun and bouncy set that included an epic version of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and a ridiculous “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” They really brought the crowd in as literally hundreds filtered in during their set. I was totally impressed with their daytime performance and they left me wanting more. They invited Jay Bianchi and Vince Herman up to do the chicken dance during their set. My surprise was two-fold given the fact that Vince wasn’t on the bill and I had never seen Jay dance on stage before. It really set the mood.
Next up was an extended version of Todd Sheaffer and Friends from what we saw the day before on the patio. Including both Allie Kral and Vince Herman in addition to Chris and Andrew. It didn’t suck. The show began with a duo between Todd and Allie on “Potter’s Field.” It was a stunning beginning to a string show. The rest of the band returned, and Vince drifted on and off the stage. Martin Sexton joined the group for a patriotic rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.” It had the same relaxed feel as the day prior, but musically there was a vibrancy that really pleased the crowd.
Grateful Dead Tribute band Shakedown Street took the indoor stage at Quixote’s around 7PM. Their delivery was solid and obviously totally in check with the Dancin’ In The Streets Festival. In fact they played the only rendition of the song from which the name of the event came from. Vince Herman sat in with them on the majority of their set including a wicked version of “Fire on The Mountain.”
I was drawn outside to the patio by the acoustic rumblings of Duck Pond who proved to be the surprise of the entire festival. These guys were full of life and added an energy that I had been searching for throughout the two-day show. They did a mash up of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” with “Whiskey Before Breakfast” that was as silly as it was well executed.
Donavan Frankenreiter was on the main stage outside by this point so I headed out to catch a glimpse of his show. The nice thing about the fest was how close and maneuverable it all was. You could litteraly bounce from stage to stage with just a whim and grab a beer on the way. In that regard it was really well setup. Donavon was a Brushfire Records performer who along the lines of Jack Johnson hosts more singalong type shows. He had a rockier edge though and he was certainly enjoyable to see live. He was one of many firsts for me at Dancin’ In The Streets. That again was the nice thing about the festival, lots of great music I was wholly familiar with and few bands I had never seen live to keep me engaged.
I went back inside to catch the end of Duck Pond before venturing back into the street for Martin Sexton. He had a small but dedicated crowd assembled for his set. He had a certain animation about his playing that was half flow of consciousness half utter showmanship. He strummed his guitar briskly and softly playing a wide variety of songs.
Big Wu went on late around 8PM and I stayed to see them for a bit. They opened with “Shoot The Moon.”
SET I: Shoot The Moon, Texas Fireball, Tequila, The Hobo Song, Red Sky, U.S. Blues, Mean Spirits> Shantytown, Dixie Chicken, Southern Energy, The Star Spangled Banner> Rhode Island Red, Kangaroo
Corey posted the set on Archive.
I stayed through “Red Sky” and they sounded great, however with three days of String Cheese Incident looming at Red Rocks, I opted to call it an early night. Sadly I missed Cornmeal and JGB’s repeat performances, but from all reports they killed it.
Dancin’ In The Streets came off without a hitch and although the turnout was less on the 4th of July there were still plenty of people who made it down overall. Fans mingled with artists as they strolled about the grounds. The normally laid back vibe of Quixote’s seemed to permeate the entire show. I’m glad this festival has made its glorious return to Denver. The Bianchi’s deserve to have an event that showcases what they bring to scene. Dancin’ In The Streets did just that.