Although Railroad Earth has only graced the Summer Camp bill in 2010 they are still part of the family. They have a dedicated fanbase and are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the scene. For the second time in two years, I headed down to the Ogden to catch Railroad Earth for a night of their New Year’s run. Last year I saw them with Great American Taxi on NYE. This year I headed down on the 30th mainly because the show included a sit-in with Kyle Hollingsworth, another Summer Camp alumni. Including my trip to Chicago, this would be the fifth time in a month seeing Kyle live. Amy picked me up from work and we headed out to a nice sushi dinner before heading over to the box office. We hit up Pete’s Monkey Bar to catch a bit of the Phish live stream from MSG before walking back to The Ogden to see the opening act.
Railroad Earth came onto the stage around 9:30 PM. Kyle’s keys were set up but he waited a few numbers before making his way to his rig. They opened with a funky Walk Beside Me, led by Andrew Altman on electric bass. Here is the rest of the setlist from Archive.
SET I: Walk Beside Me, Lordy, Lordy, Bread and Water, Little Bit O’ Me, Stillwater Getaway, The Hunting Song, Mourning Flies, Said What You Mean, Long Way To Go
SET II: Old Man and the Land, Head> Will it Go Round in Circles, Bringin’ My Baby Back Home, The Forecast> The Man Who Invented Sin> Mighty River> Like a Buddha, Elko
Encore: I’ve Just Seen a Face, Bird in a House
Note: Kyle joined on The Hunting Song and stayed for the remainder of the show.
The audience recording is available on ARCHIVE, thanks to Gerry Gladu for posting.
The first stet ebbed and flowed as far as the energy level was concerned. The 16 and up age limit made for an interesting mix in the crowd. From screaming x-handed noobs to old deadheads, the fanbase was as diverse as the music performed. The rolling and tumbling Lordy, Lordy got everyone’s juices flowing. The Bread and Water succeeded keeping the vibe at a fever pitch before the Little Bit O’ Me deflated the room a bit. Musically, Railroad Earth sounded as tight as I’ve seen them, but without the urgency of their opening set at Red Rocks this summer. They meandered into the show with a confidence and comfort often reserved for night two of three-night runs. Carbone played the fiddle beautifully on Stillwater Getaway, jumping back and forth between an almost symphonic presentation and an outright hoedown. Kyle Hollingsworth took his place at the keys on The Hunting Song. Kyle added the ragtime feel of an old-timey saloon. Inherently there are certain gaps in RRE’s sound; them being a Newgrass band, Kyle’s keys filled them in nicely. It was great to see Andrew Altman really stepping it up on bass. He alternated between electric and standup and really seemed to be finding his footing in the band. I was also truly impressed with Sheaffer’s vocals, which went from clean and crisp to almost Dylanesque as in Said What You Mean. They closed the set with a raucous sing-along on Long Way To Go.
The second set overall had a much more consistent flow and vibe. Railroad eased into set two with a bouncy and scenic Old Man and the Land before ripping into a massive 18 minute Head. The jamming showed some serious tightness and ability from all of the members including Kyle. Everyone was ready to lock in and take the ride. They ripped into a Kyle-led version of Billy Preston’s Will It Go Round in Circles. The haunting melody of The Forecast segued into the instrumental The Man Who Invented Sin. The Mighty River went quickly before RRE exploded into a powerful Like A Buddha. Againg clocking in at over 18 minutes this was by far the highlight of the entire show. They closed the second set with an equally strong Elko. It was like the band just turned on the turbo boosters on the last four songs of the show.
They encored with a quick I’ve Just Seen a Face and fun Bird in a House. The crowd left happy and energized from this stellar show. While the first set came on slower, the second set, particularly the end, more than made up for it. As we exited into the cold night of Denver we were stoked on the whole experience. Railroad Earth has a habit of performing remarkably. They have such a strong fanbase and have continued to play exceptional shows out on the Front Range, that I see nothing but good things for them. I was happy to catch a night of RRE’s New Year’s run and would recommend that everyone do the same. However, it was time to head home because I opted to see The Motet and Euforquestra for New Year’s Eve in Fort Collins. That would prove to be another solid choice.
Just a week after I got to see Roster and Kyle Hollingsworth, coming into town is Strange Arrangement. These guys are from Chicago and have played Summer Camp before. They played an awesome show at Cervantes Other Side and they were even recording for a DVD…I managed to get a copy of one of the song on there…Check it out here: Strange Arrangement – Sweet Love
Unfortunately I couldn’t sit down with them, but I did get to ask them some questions over email, check out their answers below:
Jeff – Where are you from, individually and as a band?
Strange Arrangement – We are all from the South West suburbs of Chicago. Jim Conry is from Willow Springs, IL. Kevin Barry from Hinsdale, Joe Hettinga from La Grange, IL and Steve Sinde is from Burbank, IL.
J – Where did your band name come from, it’s usually a good story, no?
SA – Haha! We used to play together in High School and the name came from a very quirky friend Mitch Manz that thought the words just sounded hilarious. He also played Harmonica and percussion in the band and when we were trying to name the band all he kept saying was “No way!!!! Strange ArrANGEment!!! Plus, the name definitely fits the music. We reformed in 2007 and thought about a ton of different names but SA just stuck with us…
J – How long have you been playing together?
SA – Jim, Kevin and I (Joe) have been playing together since 1997. But went separate ways from 2000 until 2007 when SA was reformed in Chicago in 2007.
J – What festivals have you played before?
SA – We’ve played at The Big Up, Bear Creek, North Coast, Summer Camp, Hoxeyville, Rootwire, Shoe Fest and a lot of smaller regional festivals in IL, WI, IN, OH and MI.
J – What would you say your biggest show has been so far?
SA – Our biggest shows have been Bear Creek, Rootwire, Hoxeyville, Summer Camp and opening for Umphrey’s at the Canopy club and UM After show on the new years run last year at Kinetic in chicago. Also, the House of Blues in Chicago on the main stage.
J - I know it’s a rather vague question, but tell us a little about where you are at in your career as this band and what kinds of initiatives you are taking to continue moving forward…
SA – We are currently changing from a regional touring band into a national touring band. We recently have gone to Northeast, Southeast and Southwest markets and plan on returning to each of these regularly. We’ve recently expanded the production of our shows to include a light rig and will soon be releasing our live shows for download so wherever you are, you can get some Strange live!
J – Are you trying to get into Summer Camp? If so, what is that process like?
SA – Of course we want to play at Summer Camp! We love that festival! We keep playing heavily in the Midwest to keep spreading the gospel of Strange Arrangement
J - Anything you’d like to add to tell the fans of SC music festival?
SA – We are playing a Jam Productions show in Chicago at Park West on Friday Jan 27. It’s a CO-Bill with Strange Arrangement and Greensky Bluegrass and Chicago Farmer opening! Definitely not to be missed! Our website is the best place to keep up to date on new announcements and show listings. www.strangement.com Our winter tour will be at least 25 shows so stay tuned and hope to see you there!!
Also, don’t forget to like us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Strange-Arrangement/164640530689
Some of you may have read my post on the Almost Famous Halloween, if not, check it out…What you don’t know about that show is that I created an electric light guitar suit to wear there.
This lead me to a dream, a dream of Scampers of all lights and colors! Where Blue Lights, and Yellow Lights, and Red Lights, and Purple Lights can glow together!
I challenge you Scampers, to light up Scamp 2012…Let’s see what you got! Check out the video below and LET THERE BE LIGHT!!!
Cornmeal decided to make yet another pilgrimage to the great state of Colorado before 2011 wound its way down the drain of life. They were doing a two night run hitting The Aggie and The Fox before gearing up for their December run on the east coast. I got a chance to sit down with Wavy Dave and Chris Gangi from Cornmeal before the show. It was a great conversation about everything from their new release of Live In Chicago Volume 2 and their upcoming studio album to Summer Camp and New Year’s runs. It was an enlightening talk and we will be featuring some our conversation in video form as well as on our MusicMarauders Live podcast next month.
Magic Beans, who currently call Boulder their home, are an eclectic mix of all things jam. I listened to some of their tracks online before the show and I was struck by their prowess with acoustic songs. At the Aggie, it was immediately apparent that they were young. They had solid musicianship, but other than their Rocky Top opener, they seemed to stray away from the sound that had drawn me to them in the first place. I will say that their second song, Band Camp, was like a washing machine full of jam on the spin cycle. It was a fifteen-minute opus that showed the wide variety of their skills. They ended their set with some Bisco sounding playing that, given the fact that they were opening for Cornmeal, seemed a bit out of place. Given the fact of their age, I was impressed with their musicianship and I look forward to seeing them evolve as a group. With a little more focus, they could powerful force on the jam circuit.
Cornmeal took the Aggie stage around 10:45 PM and jumped into a high-energy hoedown that was like watching a bluegrass volcano erupt before my eyes. Cornmeal always brings the heat in Colorado. Something about the altitude or the water out here just inspires them musically. They have become so well known out here as a band that always delivers live that they usually draw quite the crowd. A decent audience was in attendance for a Thursday night show in Fort Collins. They opted for one long set playing almost two and a half hours rather than breaking it up. Allie shredded the violin like a female bluegrass version of Hendrix. Wavy Davy showed some of his skills on the banjo and he nailed some back and fort between himself and Kris. Highlights from the show included a very nice Out Here On My Own and a Magic Stone Mountain that would get even the most jaded fan dancing in the aisle. As they were about to wrap up the set they surprised the crowd with a beautiful version of John Lennon’s Watching The Wheels.
They encored with a huge This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) by the Talking Heads and Townes Van Zandt’s White Freight Liner Blues. It was a great close to an amazing show from Cornmeal. They bring so much to their live shows by creating a palpable energy in any room they play, and upping the ante for any other jamgrass band touring today. They are a fearless group that, through their twelve plus years of playing together, have become so comfortable in that they are willing to take chances and push it to the limit. Their show at the Aggie was no exception and I will continue to look forward to their regular visits to Colorado.
It’s been quite some time since the Leftover Salmon’s full band peformed at Summer Camp in 2004. I was there that year I and remember it being one of the highligts of that particular lineup. However Vince Herman has a long history with the fest taking on MC duties in 2006. He did everything from introducing bands, playing tweener sets on stage, and even playing an impromptu acoustic show in front of the barn with Chuck Garvey. He was also there with his side project Great Ameican Taxi and as an artist at large in 2007. So it would be an understatment to say that seeing them on 2012′s lineup would make me very happy. I’ve been touting the reemergence and reinvigoration of Leftover Salmon for months. It was obvious after seeing them on their River Run this summer that any sign of burning out or winding down was a distant memory for the members of LoS. I was again reminded of how far they’ve come at their show at The Ogden.
I headed down early to get a good spot for some shots and ended up hanging out on the rail for most of the show. Head For The Hills opened up the night with a string filled bang. Now Head For The Hills has never had the opportunity to play at Summer Camp but I honestly believe they would be an asset to any festival. Furthermore, I just want to start off by saying that Matt Lowen is the Bassnectar of bluegrass, holding down the rhythm with his thick licks and nasty bass bombs. He was most definitely driving the bus. Now I’ve had the pleasure of seeing H4TH a few times but when they arrived onstage adorned in their tracksuits and screaming out, “Turkey Sweat” to the rapidly growing crowd I knew we were in for a treat. They took this run seriously, which is evident in the tape from Kind Recordings.
You can listen to it on ARCHIVE, thanks to Corey for posting.
It is shows like this that just fill my heart with so much goodness it is simply impossible to wipe the smile from my face. As I was snapping pictures I found myself pausing just to soak up all the righteousness oozing out of the band in front of me. They have this indescribable mix of being both current and yet old-timey. Their contemporary take on the classic and ability to harmonize so well is what sets them apart from other bluegrass acts touring today. They opened with a beautiful One Foot In The Grave that showed everyone what is possible vocally with Head For The Hills. They performed massive version of My Angelie, which has to be my favorite jamming vehicle of theirs. Beautiful and musically perfect versions of Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill and Pink Floyd’s Fearless were highlights from their set as well. Joe Lessard’s fiddle was both powerful and subtle as he traded main vocal duties with Adam Kinghorn. They each took turns with hand-blurring solos as they ripped through their repertoire. By the end of the set my head was spinning from what I was witnessing. Mike Chappell on mandolin was the glued that held it all together as he at times held back and at other times literally made the earth move. They closed their set with Ray Charles’ Unchain My Heart, which took on a tone that was both unexpected and crispy. Once again Head For The Hills showed us why the are Colorado’s best bluegrass band two years running (as decided by the Westword) and why they are a not to miss show. This Thanksgiving I was thankful that they were on this run with Salmon.
It was time for the main event, which as a two set extravaganza from the one and only Poly Ethnic Cajun Slamgrass outfit from the mountains of Colorado, Leftover Salmon. They opened with a rowdy Carnival Time that just set the mood for what was about to go down. Here is the rest of the setlist from Kind Recordings.
SET I: Carnival Time, Gold Hill Line, Gonna Have A Party, Shenandoah Valley Breakdown, 44 Blues, The Highway Song, Danger Man*, She Caught The Kay*, RIP Michigan Mike, Down In The Hollow
SET II: All Night Ride, I’m Gonna Live High Till I Die, High On A Mountain Top, Almost Cut My Hair, Troubled Times> Ask The Fish, Last Days of Autumn, Jokester, Bill’s Boogie, Out In The Woods, Whipping Post> God Save The Queen
ENCORE: Nobody’s Fault But Mine**
*Silas Herman on mandolin
**Silas Herman on acoustic guitar, Joe Lessard on fiddle
Here is the Kind Recording from Corey on ARCHIVE.
I guess let me start by personally saying sorry to Jose Martinez. I’ve been giving him guff mainly because I felt he has had a few weak outings with the band in the last couple years, and when Wally Ingram sat in with the band for the River Run I honestly felt like they were making a transition. That being said he was on point the entire evening and really showed me what he is capable of with Salmon. So from me to you Jose nice work, keep it up sir. Going on I really do feel that Andy has just kicked this band into high gear. I don’t know that if in my twenty or so Salmon shows I’ve ever seen Vince and Drew so happy and obviously energized. They are always fun but there was something different this time, I kept catching Vince smiling as he watched Andy play and the energy between Drew and Vince was electric all night long. The Shenandoah Valley Breakdown showed some seriously fast picking and the 44 Blues lead by Bill McKay gave everyone a chance to catch their breath as we grooved away to his crunchy vocals. Vince likes to tell stories while he is performing; he is very much a bard in that way. He informed the crowd that since the band was now 21 and of age following last year’s 20th anniversary celebrations that they would be doing some extended touring and start work on a new album.
“See if we can get some more Salmon running around the country all over the place. Both in the water and on the highway.” –Vince Herman
Drew belted it out beautifully on Highway Song again demonstrating why he is so important to the Salmon sound. Few people give me chills when they sing live like Drew consistently does whenever I see him play. Vince’s son Silas came onstage for Danger Man and She Caught The Katy, which were huge highlights of the first set. After dedicating the show to Michigan Mike the previous night Vince took a moment to honor him and announced a show at The Stage Stop the next night. His hope was that the music would help the start to heal the community of Nederland after this tragic loss. They finished the first set with another Drew tune, Down In The Hollow.
They started the set teasing Louie Louie before ripping into All Night Ride. Again this shows their playfulness and happiness to be playing together in this band. Bill McKay again took vocals on David Crosby’s Almost Cut My Hair. Now I’ve seen them cover this track but this version just blasted off. A couple times it almost felt like they were teasing Whipping Post before it broke down into a reggae-infused Vince led pick off. The Troubled Times was stunning but things got weird during Ask The Fish. With the band taking on an ethereal Doors-esque jam, Vince gave us a soliloquy about how was face to face with a fish the was roughly the size of the room. The crowd became the amebas on the mouth of this giant fish asking them to act it out for him. Using a round glow stick that had been tossed onstage earlier as a prop to signify a bubble. It was a fun moment to say the least.
“How many of you feel more like you now than you did yesterday? That’s progress.” –Vince Herman
Bill’s Boogie was fun, but the highlight of the show was the set-closing Whipping Post into God Save The Queen. They encored with a huge Nobody’s Fault But Mine inviting Joe Lessard from H4TH and Silas back out for an extended picking session. This show again reaffirmed my belief that Leftover is back to their old self. After the loss of Mark Vann they had some growing pains and it took years for them to get back to this place. I can safely say that they are ready for the road ahead and I look forward to swimming upstream with them for years to come.
A Day In Of The Life
Well, a weekend actually. My Umphrey’s Red Rocks and Blue experience actually began on Friday July 1st when I picked up some of my Chicago peeps from the Denver Airport. It was great to have the Midwest peeps back with me again and the buzz of excitement that could be only an Umphrey’s show was already building. We went out Friday night and Saturday night and caught my good friends, the Fox Street Allstars as they brought their band of rock and funk to my favorite Denver bar, Herb’s Jazz and Blues. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Fox Street Allstars, please do so. They are good friends and tour around with the New Mastersounds. We all know those cats can throw down and let’s just say Fox Street holds their own.
Anyway, Sunday came and it was time for Red Rocks. By now the crew had increased to about a dozen. We had a van pick us up for the show, SAFETY FIRST, and headed out. We got to the lot just before doors, hopped in line and went into the venue. It was a slow to grow crowd and we were able to put some tarps down in the sweet spot, rows 24 and 25, just left of center. We got in touch with another crew of peeps and had our group of 30 or so rollin all together.
Up first were the New Mastersounds. They looked so funny packed in all tight on top of one another. Appearances, and Eddie Roberts’ new hair cut aside, those euro boys really held it down. I love seeing them play and I’m so happy they have become friends with the UM guys and that gives me more chances to see them. Up next was the Easy Star Allstars performing some of their originals as well as some of their dub covers. A really fun show, something must have gone wrong though with the timing because they were just about to start their bong rip influenced “money” from dub side of the moon when they got cut off. Regardless they hold it down and always put on an amazing show. Nevertheless it was time for UMPHREY’S.
I know I have mentioned before how Umphrey’s are my favorite, and this show at Red Rocks really reinforced that for me. First set began as the sun was really setting. Jefferson Waful would pretty much dominate everything that happened the whole night. When he gets to set up a rig like the one he had this night, with some 60 odd moving lights, well, he can really create some textures that are of unsurpassable beauty and I applaud him for his efforts. The music though, boy the music. This was a really special show for me for a lot of reasons. I was with some of my best friends in the world both from Denver and Chicago and I was actually privileged to be able to introduce 2 other friends of mine to UM…what a first show to see.
I’m not sure about everyone else but I am really stoked on the way these new tunes are coming together. We got Puppet String in the first set which is just an awesome song full of metaphors vocal harmonies and soaring guitar riffs. Dropping into a dirty Hurt Bird Bath was probably a really good idea, and the plunger ending was a great way to send us off to set break. 2nd set was amazing as well. Divisions and Haji were my personal highlights as those songs have the tendency to tug on my heart strings. Ok, I’ll say it, I was crying during both tunes…I can’t help it…between the scenery, my environment (inside my body), my people, the lights, the songs, it was all too much. Not tears of sadness , but almost of connection and shared experience. Leaving his lyrics open to interpretation, Brendan really allows people to connect with his music, simply amazing. Finally, the encore, Pearl Jam’s Release, with huge vocals, Brendan’s voice seemed to flow over the entire crowd and wrap them in a blanket of emotion connected to the song. This song is especially meaningful to one of my best friends, Ben Burstein, and for me to see him see this song was very special as it helps me understand what his world is about a little more.
With the show over we headed back to the van. Between our 14 and another limo of 18, we were about to continue the party at my place where an ice cold keg of PBR was waiting for us. Upon arrival, my roomie Kari was getting things ready and we were about to rage. The Fox Street boys, my roommate Jordan and his band Kinetix, and s couple other special guests who later got locked in our backyard for half an hour, were all getting down together. The tunes and the beers were flowing and we were all so happy to be home safe with each other just living the life. I think we all got to settling down around sunrise. Epic, epic night.
Waking up on the 4th we all could barely do anything considering the night before. But, in the true spirit of an Umphreak, we rallied and raged. We got up to Boulder about an hour before the show, grabbed a bite to eat on the Pearl Street mall and headed into the Boulder Theater. Crew and I headed straight up to the balcony and to our surprise, all the seats had been removed. I later found out they went out for cleaning, but it was great up there. Super roomy, awesome sound, unadulterated view. From everything I hear people talking about, they loved the Boulder Show more than the Red Rocks show and if you are into a dancey night of Umphrey’s I’d have to agree. With such a small room and everyone being such a big fan, there was a lot of energy flying around in the boulder theater. Between Booth Love, the Triple Wide, Wappy, and In the Kitchen, the dance force was out in full effect. For me, however, getting to see Murph come out and play Comfortably Numb was the highlight. Every single person singing along, it was phenomenal. Check out this video by my buddy Ben: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUkG5a2hXTM
With all that we had experienced I continue to realize how lucky we are to get to see a band like Umphrey’s. And just as every note they play can ring for only so long, seeing a live band is a fleeting endeavor. We never know how long they will play or what the future holds. So whatever your band is, go see them. Go see them as much as you can because tomorrow, you might not be able to.
Denver Music Scene, God I Love You
So I want to tell you all about 3 very different shows that I got a chance to see recently and just beg Summer Camp to put all these peeps on the bill for next year. First up is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Good lord. Now I don’t know if you have ever seen Grace, but that is exactly what she is made of. Amazingly beautiful and classy, Grace has an energy about her that makes you go, woah…Now, if you have ever heard Grace Potter you already know this…her talent and voice surpass even her beauty. It is really amazing. She has so much power inside her that she can unleash on the crowd any time she wants. Please Summer Camp Staff…if there is anyway to get Grace on the bill, DO IT!!! Give her a night set and let her throw down!
Ok, enough of that, sorry, I just get really worked up when I start talking about Grace Potter. Anyway, show number 2, some good friends and local heroes, Yamn, an amazing band from Denver, has played Summer Camp before. These guys are really starting to make some moves professionally in terms of the quality of venue they play, the number of people they draw, and more. The first time I heard these guys play I was like, did Umphrey’s and Sound Tribe have a baby? Here is some clips from their New Years show up in Breckenridge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GB2xZvmpR4 I know if you see these guys, and they tour with UV Hippo some times, that you will not be disappointed. They have a wonderful lighting director named Pauly who like Jefferson Waful is learning to paint the music with his lights and bring another element to the show. I got to catch a great rendition of I Am the Walrus at the show I went to. Seeing a band like this come up is really cool. To meet their fans who support them like no other. One of their biggest fans and my good friend Mackenzie Moore runs CAM Showear, clothes for shows…Yamn is the kind of band that brings people like her out of the wood work. Check out her show clothes here: http://www.facebook.com/cam.showear. As I get more and more into music, it is the local scene and the first fans of bands that really intrigue me. I think it is easy to see why people are big fans of big bands. But to “know” so early in a band’s career that they are the band for you, latching on and supporting them as friends and as musicians, it is a special community to be a part of. If you have a band like that in your neck of the woods, tell Summer Camp about them cuz all these kids deserve a shot.
Finally, just last week, I got to see Mr. Eric Johnson. If you don’t know who this guys is, you should. Perhaps you know his most famous song, Cliffs of Dover…I didn’t but I did know this guy had chops. With just a 3 piece he made so much music. I saw some chord shapes on the guitar I have never seen before. I think I have a new guitar hero though. His stylings were really tasteful. Beautiful chords, amazing solos…I got a bit of an Umph vibe off him and I would not be surprised at all if it turns out Jake was down with Eric Johnson.
Anyway, just wanted to let you all know about a couple shows I had seen. I’m heading out to see Styx and Yes tonight at Red Rocks, and August should be a good month for music too. Until next time…
This one goes out to all those kids who wanted some more electronic coverage from Summer Camp. Obviously it’s not my genre of choice, but some of the bands can still hit close to the mark for me. I had listened to several tracks off of Boombox’s lastest album and was actually pretty excited to see them play. I arrived early to hear Auditory Elements who didn’t really even deserve to share the stage with Boombox. I first caught JD Garrick at The Mish this summer and just feel like he comes up short mixing mashups and dubstep. Not to mention that the early crowd didn’t bode well for the rest of the evening either. I watched a girl with a giant X on her hand stumbling around before a bartender had to come over and kick her out for being too intoxicated. When Boombox finally took the stage around 11 PM the crowd was packed in as many were still filtering in through the door. The sweat-soaked youngsters worked themselves up into fervor as the show began.
Boombox consists of Russ Randolph and Zion Rock Godchaux, yes that Godchaux. The most approachable thing about their sound is the organic fusion of instrumental and electronic. If you read my posts you know I have issue with heading out to see electronic acts mainly because it doesn’t jive with my personal taste. However, Boombox got their hooks into me a long time ago with dance version of Bob Dylan’s classic poem Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie and as I previously mentioned the Grateful Dead connection with Zion Rock being the son of none-other-than Donna Jean. It’s nice to see an electronic act that still has respect for the classics that made music what it is today. Their newest album Downriver Electric is an enjoyable combination of soulful singing and dance-oriented beats. However it would take most of their show until we were treated to a couple of tracks from the new album. In fact the majority of the show featured the duo focusing on slick riffs with heavy beats and staying away from their more song-orientated material. Songs like Boogeyman and Round and Round made it into rotation, which was a nice workup of some, their classic tunes.
Boombox is a liquid dance party that focuses on a more down tempo and grooving structure to their shows. Elements of funk and rock mix cleanly with the electronic fundamentals to create a bouncy and layered show. For organic music fans it can be hit or miss but their show at The Aggie delivered exactly what was advertised. I could have done with a little more vocal based songs but overall I was impressed with the party they throw. My highlight from the show was the eloquently preformed Headchange. It’s songs like this that make me intrigued with Boombox. Clearly they have talent and know how to get the kids hungry for the untz, but by adding a bit of subtlety and some solid lyrics they create an avenue into electronic for me personally. So in conclusion I’m glad I made it down and was happy with the performance. I could have done with a couple more tracks like Headchange but hey; it’s a dance party.
Summer Camp always includes some sort of Dead Family Band in their lineup. Last year it was 7 Walkers but in 2009 that band was Dark Star Orchestra. So, Amy and I headed out to the Aggie to catch them. It was a nice night and the crowd was decent. Good people out for a real good time; the hippie kids were in full force. DSO is a band I’ve caught a number of times but after the departure of John Kadlecik I was curious to see how they were sounding with Zen Trickster, Jeff Mattson on lead guitar. Not to mention my utmost respect for keyboardist and Phil and Friends and The Other Ones alumni Rob Barraco. DSO is a combination of some truly skilled musicians and it was definitely time after a number of years to catch them out in Colorado. For those that don’t know Dark Star recreates Dead Shows from the past with incredible accuracy. They performed a great show from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee that occurred on October 21, 1972. It was classic Dead at the height of their single drummer sound. Here is the setlist they performed.
SET I: Me and My Uncle, Beat It On Down The Line, Sugaree, El Paso, China Cat Sunflower> I Know You Rider, Black Throated Wind, Tennessee Jed, Jack Straw, Loser, Playing In The Band
SET II: The Promised Land, Brown Eyed Women, Big River, He’s Gone, Greatest Story Ever Told, Bird Song, Truckin> The Other One> Morning Dew, Sugar Magnolia
ENCORE: Jonny B. Goode
It was just a solid show all night long. It began around 9:35 and went well past 1 AM. As kids pondered the year of the show I was fairly sure it was from the early 70′s given the setlist. The China Cat> Rider was absolutely sublime with a deep version of Black Throated Wind. They finished the first set with a huge jam-infused Playing In the Band. The first set stretched to almost an hour and half ending just around 11 PM. Hippies twirled as they played on. I went out to catch some air at setbreak with the rest of the family.
The second set was only describable as sick. The Promised Land opener was kicked up a notch by the incredible cover of Johnny Cash’s Big River. The highlight of the show was by far the Truckin> The Other One> Morning Dew. It was a huge tidal wave that washed over the entire second set. Matson soared over Rob Eaton’s rhythm guitar; their back and forth interplay fit the bill incredibly well. Lisa Mackey’s vocals were enough to make Donna Jean herself jealous as she stepped in from time to time during the show. I was just blown away. For years I’ve honestly avoided Dark Star dismissing them as a cover band, a good cover band but a cover band nonetheless. The fact of the matter is they are so far beyond a simple cover band I almost feel silly thinking of them as such. They are musical historians and recreationists who work tirelessly to reimaging shows from years gone by. Without DSO there would be no real way to re-experience these long lost concerts. I’m glad I finally went back to see DSO, they certainly made a Friday night in Fort Collins memorable.