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.
Having friends come to town is an easy excuse to head down to The Ogden for a Galactic fueled rager. The Ogden continues to be major hub for jam bands in Denver. As we entered San Francisco based band The Monophonics were already in high gear warming up the crowd. These guys brought a rowdy soulful sound to the mix. Originally formed as an instrumental group, they are currently led by keyboardist Kelly Finnigan who exudes energy from every pore. A blend of psychedelic, funk, and soul The Monophonics are a polished unit that simply gobsmacked the early arrivers. We were greeted by a flawless version of Cher’s “Bang Band (She Shot Me Down).” First of all, an unusual cover to choose, which made popular as the opening credit track for Kill Bill. “Bang Bang” fit The Monophonics like a glove. The driving original “High Off Your Love” was another nice addition to the show. They closed the set with a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You.” To say, I was impressed by The Monophonics would be an understatement. They come to play and leave every ounce of energy on the stage; I hope they make it back to Denver soon.
Just prior to Galactic taking the stage Don Strasburg with AEG announced that Galactic would be at Red Rocks this summer with Greensky and Railroad Earth on July 12th. Looks like that will be yet another incredible night on the rocks.
Galactic has long been my generation’s representation of New Orleans funk. Dr John, The Indian Chiefs, The Meters, and all the early NOLA players paved the way for Galactic. Birthed from the depths of the musical Louisiana swamp, Galactic is the true torchbearers of New Orleans Jazz, Funk, and Soul. Having transitioned from the days of House, Galactic has been touring for the last year or so with Corey Glover of Living Colour fame. Playing it much like House used to, Glover floats on and off the stage transforming the band from instrumental force, to full on musical volcano. Singing songs like his hit “Cult Of Personality” and The Beatle’s “I Am The Walrus,” Glover is a powerful and incredibly controlled singer who seems to be capable of belting out anything. They ended the first set with a beautiful “Bittersweet.”
The second set would see some hip-hop make it into the mix with trombone player Corey Henry singing one and cussing profusely. Hey I enjoy that. Corey is originally from Rebirth Brass Band, but he may have found a permanent home with Galactic. Lyrics Born who was on day two’s lineup made an unannounced appearance to sing a song in his signature spitfire fashion. Stanton was a monster all night and was given a nice solo that mesmerized the capacity crowd. Galactic ended the second set with Toussaint’s “What Is Success.” After a moment they were back to encore with “Does It Make A Difference At All” into The Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil.” Wow. This was a big show with lots of twists and turns. Galactic is an assemblage of the some of the best funk players on the planet today. They have grown from a relentless bar band when I first saw them in 2001 to ambassadors of New Orleans music. Galactic continues to play with an energy and vibrancy that is a rare find in today’s music scene. Go find the funk.
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.
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.