My friend, Melody was celebrating her annual trip around the sun, so it was it great excuse to come down to The Ogden for a night of rowdiness with the Dang Ol’ Dark Star Orchestra. With the exodus for John K for greener pastures, Jeff Mattson has filled the void nicely with his spot on guitar tone and solid vocals. We met for some pre-show libations at The Snug before hitting The Ogden around 9 PM. The room was filling in properly, but it wasn’t overly packed. There seemed to be an abundance of Dead Family in attendance, which made me wonder if they were on DSO tour. The idea seemed silly, but if you are truly looking for authenticity and to relive the shows of a bygone era, it makes sense.
“I literally just got out of jail.” – Random Concertgoer
Dark Star took the stage just before 9:30 PM. They performed a show from October 9th, 1977 that took place just down the street at McNichols Arena. The show reads like a Greatest Hits album. Rob Barroco dedicated the show to fallen fan Joel Campbell, who passed away in a tragic car crash earlier this month.
Set 1: New Minglwood Blues, They Love Each Other, Cassidy, Dire Wolf, Looks Like Rain, Brown Eyed Women, Lazy Lightnin’> Supplication, Sugaree, The Music Never Stopped
Set 2: Samson and Delilah, Scarlet Begonias> Fire On The Mountain, Estimated Prophet> He’s Gone> Truckin’> Drums> Terrapin Station> Around And Around
Encore: Casey Jones
The original show is up on Archive, Thanks to Charlie Miller for posting. http://archive.org/details/gd1977-10-09.sbd.miller.109972.flac16
I’ve said it before, but Dark Star Orchestra is not really a cover band, they are historical re-creationists. They are more akin to the people reliving Civil War battles every weekend than say Super Diamond. Since I’m not talking about anything new here, I’ll just stick to the facts. They opened with a fiery “New Minglewood Blues” that certainly got the crowd’s attention. By now the room, while not completely sold out, was certainly at capacity. In fact it was the perfect amount of people in my opinion; enough room to maneuver, and plenty of people to fill in the gaps. The “Cassidy” was precise and made for a beautiful back and forth between Donna stand-in Lisa Mackey and Rob Eaton. “The Music Never Stopped” was executed perfectly as it became a huge peak prior to the setbreak.
They opened the second set with an astounding “Samson and Delilah” but it was the “Scarlet” “Fire” that got the crowd standing at attention. Around this time I found myself in the smoking section and heard this gem.
“Man, Jerry is so good tonight.” – Random Concertgoer
The “Terrapin” hit the mark before a huge set closing “Around and Around” that featured a stellar “Johnny B. Goode” tease that left me wanting more. They said their goodbyes with a quick “Casey Jones” to close the night. I have to say that DSO has never sounded better, and their attention to detail continues to impress. If you have a hankering for the Good Ol’ Grateful Dead, this will most definitely cure what ails you.
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.
Recently, I sat down with Assembly Of Dust and former Strangefolk front man Reid Genauer. On the verge of releasing their Kickstarter Campaign funded album Sun Shot, Assembly of Dust spent a couple of nights performing in Colorado. I talked with Reid about everything from whether or not jam is dying to his infatuation with GaGa.
Reid also peformed a solo acoustic version of “You Lay The Dust.”Thanks to Reid for taking the time and thanks to 4 Cs Recording Group for setting up the interview.
Assembly Of Dust is a rare but welcomed sight on the Front Range. They have been a regular of Summer Camp performing there twice as well as all the other moe.-hosted festivals. I would love to see them back on the lineup in the future. The brainchild of bandleader Reid Genauer, Assembly Of Dust is a more refined and focused project than the jam-centric Strangefolk (Reid’s first group.) The last time AOD made it to Denver it was part of a co-bill with Emmitt-Nershi Band at The Bluebird on 10/16/09. It has been over three years since their last visit and I was not going to miss their triumphant return. Their return coincided with the Broncos playoff bid against the Ravens. I was glued to the game all afternoon as both teams battled back and forth. Finally at the two-minute warning I hopped in my car to beat the after game traffic. When I arrived at the venue the game was in overtime and in the end the Broncos were defeated. There was a stench of disappointment on the streets of Denver that night. Not to mention that the temperature quickly dipped well into the single digits as the sun crept over the mountains.
Prior to the show a taper friend had arranged to record the entire concert with a multi-cam, 24-track recording. Reid offered to do an interview and he contacted me to help with the shoot. I got the opportunity to sit down with Reid and talk for about twenty minutes after their sound check. We talked about everything from his latest Kickstarter Campaign to his random admiration of Lady GaGa. Stay tuned for that content, which will be posted soon.
West Water Outlaws opened up the show with their brand of rowdy rock that seemed to start and end at 11. Another product of the ever evolving, always intriguing Boulder music scene, West Water Outlaws took the stage authoritatively. Reminiscent of a young Getty Lee lead singer and rhythm guitarist Blake “Whiskey” Rooker definitely commanded attention when belted out his prodigious vocals. It would appear that bands like The Congress are blazing the trail for a younger group of musicians who still value a solid rock sound.
Set 1: Looking Back, Meds, Credo, Dead Broke, Come On, Sledge Monster, Sun Also Rises, Things I Meant To Say, New Canoe
Blending bluesy riffs with searing vocals made for an entertaining display. I would say to keep an eye out for them, but given their energy, chances are they’ll find you at a venue soon. As the West Water Outlaws played, people slowly filtered into the cavernous Summit Music Hall from the cold. The room holds 1100 people and normally hosts metal and hardcore shows. I actually found the room to be pretty solid and would like to see more jam type shows booked here.
Assembly Of Dust took the stage around 10:20 PM. They immediately woke up the crowd with their anthem “Songs We Sing.”
Set 1: Songs We Sing, Weehawken Ferry, Westerly, Paul Henry, Arkansas Down, Burned Down, Elixir, Sun Shot, Spectacular
Set 2: Whistle Clock, Fountain, Lost & Amazed, Songbeard, 40 Reasons, Mama, Harrower
Encore: Bus Driver
Assembly Of Dust is a nonstop musical journey through all things acoustic, rocks, blues, and so much more. Reid’s stellar vocals anchor the group and allow for each of his incredibly talented band mates to really wail. “Weehawken Ferry” hit us with some rolling, rambling jamming featuring some searing guitar work from Adam Terrell who was on fire all night long. “Paul Henry” gave bassist John Lecesse a chance to rip it up nicely. Genauer lyrics are so expressive and conjure incredible images in the mind of his listeners. “Arkansas Down” falls into this category, as Reid took us all on a narrative journey. The elastic “Burned Down” became an all out dance party. Fans literally hugged the rail and flailed wildly in the side spaces. The room although large was probably only one third full, which meant the floor was full, but there was plenty of room to maneuver.
Newcomer to the band Jason Crosby, another multi-instrumentalists, spends most of his time on the keys, but can quickly bust out a fiddle for added musical textures. When Nate Wilson left the band in 2008 they didn’t immediately go out and hire another keyboardist. The members of Assembly Of Dust wanted something to happen more organically. So they toured as a four-piece until they met up with Jason Crosby and he fit the mold. And let me just say that he fits the mold exceptionally well. Next up AOD performed “Sun Shot” the title track to their upcoming Kickstarter funded album, before they closed the set with an awesome “Spectacular.”
Assembly of Dust opened up their second set with their Deadesque “Whistle Stop,” which was a nice way to ease into the second half of the show. Terrell’s guitar again soared on “Fountain,” before the audience was treated to the sublime lyrics of “Lost & Amazed.” “40 Reasons” again was a nice touch, but the beautiful “Mama” may have been the understated highlight of the show. They closed the second set with a rowdy take on “Harrower.” Assembly Of Dust encored with the too fun “Bus Driver.” This is exactly what you can expect from AOD every time; a solid show from mind-blowing musicians. Reid’s journey into adulthood has given him some compelling experiences, which he translates into his songwriting. He has a truly unique style that reeks of creativity. Assembly Of Dust may not be incredibly well known in Denver, but those that are in the know would never miss seeing Assembly Of Dust when they come to town. Find out why.
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.
Last night I got the chance to see an amazing show…
It started with a local Denver band called Tiger Party. This band is like a funky electronic future disco, and I like it. With members of the bands The Malah, Octopus Nebulah, and Signal Path, you should know that these guys know that they know what they are doing. Check em out when you get a chance.
The headliner for the night though was Pigs on the Wing…My camera is busted so I’ll include a video of a past performance, but you have got to see this band live.
Featuring Dave Murphy of STS9, this is the best Pink Floyd cover band I have ever seen. In order to capture the layers heard in Pink Floyd recordings there were sometimes 8 people on stage including Dom from Big Gigantic. Sometimes there would be only 1 or 2 people on stage during the ambient portions. Whatever song they did though, they truly brought to life. We’ve seen something like this before at Summer Camp, wouldn’t it be great to see something like it again this year?
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.
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.
After witnessing an amazing set at Summer Camp from Banyan featuring Stephen Perkins and Willie Waldman, I was happy to see Mr. Waldman was on his way to Denver. This set was a bit different as it featured four incredible live painters performing with the band. This year Summer Camp invited several artists to paint at the festival and it really adds a bit of spice to the experience. In a way this show was much like a mini-fest in an evening.
The last time live painters Bukaty, Wisdom, Callerman, and Keener were together was as the Kanrocksas Music Festival. This time around they were painting a Free Jazz performance from Willie Waldman Project. WWP is a group that morphs on the regular taking on different members based on locale and availability. This time around the musicians consisted of Willie on trumpet, Brian Jordan on guitar, Cory Kertzie on drums, and Garrett Sayers on bass. A tight group to be sure, but the night also had its fair share of surprises.
I arrived early and met with the band for an interview. I wanted to dive into the collaboration between the live painters and the musicians. I have been seeing Wisdom paint with Waldman for ten years now and the most interesting element of his painting is his reliance on the performance rather than the final product on the canvas. He paints on an illuminated background and when he is done he takes a picture and wipes it away. The impermanence of his art is mind-boggling. Bukaty has a flowing, sometimes frenzied style, however as of late he has opted to really let the music dictate his work. Don Callerman, also known as the “House Painter” at Quixotes ranges from linear impressionism to more direct representational pieces. Laurie Keener does some incredible caricatures of the musicians and is well known for the way she depicts not only the performers but also their instruments.
So with the painters in “Quadraphonic Surround Sound” in place it was tine for the set to get underway. As they started there was only about thirty souls gathered on the newly renovated patio at Quixotes. I have to point out that the light turnout had to do with the fact that the show was poorly promoted. For the caliber of music and level of talent of artists painting it was most definitely a shame that not more people made it out. The lack of attendence did little to detract from the musical performance or the artists. I guess what I’m saying is that the music was absolutely top notch. Willie was not only the bandleader but also his soulful trumpet acted as the glue that tied the act together. Brian Jordan is simply stellar, working with a wide range of musical styles he pulled out all the stops on his guitar throughout the two set show. The dynamism between Sayers and Kertzie built over the course of the entire evening. Kertzie is a monster on the kit and working with someone as accomplished as Garrett really gave him the room to shine. The paint splattered on the canvases as the group flowed in and out of Latin, world, jazz, and rock soundscapes. There are no setlists really, as it is all improvised; however you can listen to the tape from Kind Recordings on Archive.
The second set saw more surprises including a sit-in from Cecil “Pnut” Daniels who stopped by after playing a Thursday set at the Highland Tap. Not only have Wednesdays with Garrett Sayers Trio become incredibly popular, but Thursdays are also hosting live music as well. He plays a Midi Horn that looks almost like a toy saxophone; however the music he created was anything but child’s play. I had heard of Daniels, but this was my first chance seeing him live and it was a great addition to the night’s performance. Another gentleman stepped up to the microphone for a version of “Big Boss Man,” which got the small crowd dancing on the patio. All in all it was a great night of music that made me wish more people had the pleasure of seeing. When Willie has a backing band that is made up of quality musicians he can really rip on the trumpet. I would go so far as to say that the band was as good as any group I’ve seen him with. It was a lot of fun, and I would love to see this exact lineup again and again.