With Leftover Salmon making it back to Summer Camp this year I thought it would be good to give their new album a listen. Here is my review. Eight years in the making Leftover Salmon’s Aquatic Hitchhiker finally hit record stores last week. A truly original work of art this album is everything Salmon with absolutely no filler. Comprised of road-tested tracks as well as some new tunes. The impetus for all of can only be the addition of Andy Thorn to the lineup. The last year has seen some changes in Camp Salmon. The departure of Bill McKay and the addition of Thorn have given the band a clearer focus on the “Poly-Ethnic Cajun Slamgrass,” that is their hallmark. The opening tune entitled “Gulf of Mexico” is sung by Drew Emmitt and is reminiscent of his earlier work like “Valley Of The Full Moon.” It refers to the oil spill in the Gulf and shows how Salmon continues to be concerned with bigger issues. Martinez’s drums hit hard like an abandoned alarm clock left to rattle away while Drew’s vocals just soar. Vince gets funky on the road song, “Keep Driving.” You can almost picture him looking out the window of a tour bus with a notepad in hand writing the words down. “Liza” is one of my favorites that has made it into their new rotation; it’s a fun shanty love song that makes crowds bounce. Musically the title track “Aquatic Hitchhiker” is perhaps the most profound on the album, lead by Thorn’s banjo shredding and Drew’s violin. For several years after the passing of Mark Vann and the exodus of Noam Pikelny LoS seemed to be searching for someone to fill the void. I can honestly say that they have found the plug in Andy Thorn. The banjo is so essential to their sound that it is imperative to have a finger-flying shredder at the helm. Andy is just that. “Bayou Town” as it’s name insinuates is a down home zydeco-flavored strum. Greg Garrison’s bass finally finds the spotlight on “Sing Up to the Moon,” with Vince on vocals. In “Light Behind the Rain” Thorn steps up the microphone, it’s a track that he used to perform with Grant Farm. His smooth delivery is the perfect juxtaposition to Vince’s rowdiness and Emmitt’s towering voice. Leftover kicks back into high gear with the extra optimistic “Stop All Your Worrying.” Martinez gets out the brushes to Great American Taxiesque “Walking Shoes.” The Americana that Herman has been focusing on for several years certainly made it into the mix with this song. “Kentucky Skies” is a Scruggs flavored romp into the Salmon’s more traditional sound. “Gone For Long” feels like the days last cigarette while the album closing “Here Comes The Night” gets jazzy and a little lounge.
The mix of Aquatic Hitchhiker is just stellar. Recorded in both Colorado and Portland, it has a solid flow, both in music and texture. I highly recommend grabbing a copy, sitting down with a cold beer, and letting the night come.
Summer Camp alums Euforquestra hosted a hometown show at The Aggie in Fort Collins to celebrate the release of their debut live album Let Us In. The night began early with an opening set by Barley Davidson. Barley Davidson is an offshoot of local funk institution The Nu Classics. Focusing on a smoother delivery than their counterpart, Barley Davidson features Walter Hannah on guitar and Eric Imbrosciano on kit with a rotating group of horn players to fill in the gaps. I found them to be a silky way to get the night going. Walter had filled in on keys for Euforquestra a few times before Matt took over, so it was nice to see him spreading his wings with this new project. Besides their jazzy jams they also tossed in a couple of instrumental covers including Tears For Fears’ “Everyone Wants To Rule The World” and Squeeze’s “Tempted By The Fruit Of Another.”
Next on the bill was Papagoya, who also call Fort Collins home. They were a blend of funk, jazz, jam, and reggae, meaning that they were the perfect segue from Barley Davidson to Euforquestra. Lead by Dimitri Zaugg on keys and vocals, they were a glossy brand of funky dub that exuded a solid energy and clean musicianship. Having caught them once previously, I knew they were solid performers, but this time around they brought some potency to their playing. Their hard hitting sound reverberated off the wall of the Aggie. By this point the room was filling up nicely, never reaching full capacity but it was definitely a solid crowd. An interesting mixture of college kids and elder hippies dancing like it may be their last chance. Papagoya ended their set and soon after Euforquestra took the stage.
Opening with one of their classic Afro-Cuban jams “Tramba,” Euforquestra came to play, which was obvious from their first note. Here is their setlist from the show.
SETI: Tramba, Reggaemylitis, MOMO, Road Funk, Sea Miner> Pure> Excuse O, Going Over That Waterfall> Tipsy> What A Day, Cause A Reaction> She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, Elegua, Price Is Right, Soup
ENCORE: Late In The Evening> Feel Together> Glide> Feel Together
Euforquestra is a dance-fueled machine; they symbolize a road tested funk outfit of epic proportions. From the time they took the stage the temperature steadily rose until it reached the liquefy point. Ripping into the Peter Tosh classic “Reggaemylitis” was an early highlight, in a show literally chocked full of them. “Road Funk,” which features Matt Wright on vocals shows a different side of this constantly evolving group. Being the newest member of a band can be challenging. However with every change Euforquestra seems to search out and take advantage of the talents of that person in the best way possible. Wright has a higher pitch and a brighter tone to his singing that meshes incredibly well on this song.
“It’s an oldie where I come from.” –Mike Tallman
“Sea Miner” is to Euforquestra as “YEM” is to Phish, it is their instrumental opus that never ceases to wow an audience. It was the beginning of a massive jam that included a stops on “Pure” and “Excuse O.” Tallman’s guitar work was on point all night, he is most definitely one of the most underrated guitar players on The Front Range. They dedicated “Going Over That Waterfall” to Earl Scruggs, and took it to its jazziest point with both Jeter and Zalatel taking turns blowing it up on the horns. Euforquestra transitioned skillfully into the polka-esque “Tipsy,” before busting out the Talking Heads classic “What A Day.” They pulled out a couple of tracks off of Let Us In with “Cause A Reaction” into The Beatles’ “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.” The segue between these tunes is tight, like a well-planned kick to the face. They pulled out “Elegua,” which is a track off their Explorations In Afrobeat album. It’s enjoyable to see them sticking to their roots, and while this concert looked ahead to the new album, it was full of moments that looked back to what brought Euforquestra to this point. They ripped into one of their newer songs “Price Is Right” before finishing their almost two hour set with a massive “Soup” that stretched to the twelve minute mark and left the crowd gasping for air.
The encore was just spectacular with a version of Paul Simon’s “Late In The Evening,“ that was spot on. They finished up by teasing the audience with “Feel Together” tease before going into Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad’s “Glide,” and then back into “Feel Together.” The band is just firing on all cylinders right now. With around a hundred shows a year Euforquestra continues to push out to new audiences and refine their sound. These hometown shows are a great way to see old friends and watch one of my favorite bands bring the heat. As the sweat-soaked patrons walked out into the cool night air we were left with a feeling of sheer joy, knowing that the boys would soon be back and we could do it all over again.
St. Patty’s Day, the drinkingest day of the year was also night two of Galactic’s Paddy Gras run at The Ogden in Denver. Galactic made the trek to Summer Camp in 2007, and are on the bill this year as well. When I saw the recent announcement of their inclusion on the lineup I knew I had to cover them here.
I arrived early and witnessed smeared shamrocks on the faces of the bleary-eyed patrons which acted as the unofficial war paint for the evening, as the sea of green filled in for the sold out show. Shirts adorned with leprechauns, cartoon characters, and various shades of emerald were the informal jersey of the dance battle, which I was immediately confronted with upon entering.
DJ Logic was on stage spinning his brand of jazzy funk-infused house music while kids were break dancing on the floor. Logic is an interesting cat; he is known for sitting in with numerous bands from the Blues Traveler front man John Popper in the Popper Logic Project to Widespread Panic. He gained notoriety at the inaugural Bonnaroo by performing with over a dozen artists and filled the role of the DJ at large in a big way. Logic spun for close to an hour keeping fans happy as the show got underway.
Los Angeles-based band The Aggrolites performing their own brand of self-proclaimed “Dirty Reggae” was next on the bill. Elements of rock and soul find their way into the mix. They rely heavily on crowd reaction and develop an energy that is contagious. The few fans that were familiar with The Aggrolites congregated in the front as the band eased into their set. Jesse Wagner blasted out his vocals on the microphone as the audience joined in the vibe. Riff heavy songs shot out the PA like musical bullets. Having no familiarity with the band, I quickly found myself dancing and chanting along with the group. Normally The Aggrolites find themselves playing alongside bands like 311, Flogging Molly, and Social Distortion, but they were a great way to get the night started. They ended their set with a powerful cover of The Beatles “Come Together”.
After a quick stage change Galactic took their places and opened with a funky “Boban”, here is the rest of the setlist.
SET I: Boban, Total Destruction To Your Mind, Heart of Steel, Break In The Road, Balkan Wedding, Manic Depression, Hey Na Na, Night People, Out In The Street, Bittersweet, Ha Di Ka, Shibuya, Funky Bird, Boe Money, From The Corner To The Block, Crazy Horse Mongoose, How Many More Times
ENCORE: Ash Wednesday Sunrise, Goin Down
The driving drums of Stanton Moore immediately took center stage and didn’t leave the spotlight for the rest of the evening. The man is a beast and he shows his prowess with ever hit of the snare. Rebirth Brass Band’s Corey Henry on trombone was a distinctly awesome addition to Galactic’s performance. The back and forth between Henry and Ben Ellman was thrilling. Corey Glover originally of Living Colour fame, took over vocal duties for the show. It was reminiscent of the Galactic days of yore that saw Theyrl Houseman DeClouet on the mic. The instrumental version of Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” was a highlight to be certain. Glover came back to the stage to hit it hard for a run of tunes that made up the meat of the set. The staggering crowd was treated to some classic Galactic funk with “Shibuya” and “Funky Bird” before Moore soloed on the kit for “Boe Money”. They ended the show with a stellar “How Many More Times”. They encored with a sick “Ash Wednesday Sunrise” into “Goin Down”. Galactic brings the heat when they play. They are a funky force to be reckoned with and continue to perform with an energy that is impressive to say the least. They are truly worthy of their place at the top of New Orleans exports and I’m truly looking forward to seeing their set at Summer Camp this year.
Summer Camp stalwarts Cornmeal teamed up with three year SCamp veterans Hot Buttered Rum for an epic night of jamgrass in Denver. When we saw these two bands partnered up for a show on the Front Range I knew I couldn’t miss it. Occurring on the same weekend as the Snowball Music Festival in Vail, it was questionable whether or not they would draw a big crowd. Well the masses of bluegrass aficionados from up and down the Rockies made the trek. It would prove to be a wise choice for all that came to this amazing live experience.
Cornmeal over the years has become a not to miss show when they come to town. After seeing their stellar performances at Summer Camp and State Bridge this summer, I’ve become so enamored with their sound that I find myself anticipating their Front Range shows months in advance.Their co-bill with Hot Buttered Rum only added to my excitement for this particular night at The Ogden in Denver, Colorado. I haven’t seen Hot Buttered Rum since November of 2010 and in that time Matt Butler left the band to pursue Everyone Orchestra full time and they replaced him with Lucas Carlton. He has a slightly less prominent sound in the mix but is still very accomplished his role as their new drummer. They opened with a rowdy Crest, here is the rest of the setlist.
SET I: The Crest, Texas Eagle, Late In The Evening, Missoula To Miami, Squall, Let The Love Come Through, Busted In Utah, Blackberry Pie, Entangled, Fruit Of The Vine, Angeline The Baker, Ramblin’ Girl, Beneath The Blossoms, Poison Oak, Working Man
The new Hot Buttered Rum has a fresh sound and the solid energy that made me a fan of their way back when. They still tour pretty heavily but have not been as prominent on The Front Range as they have in years past. The room began to fill in as they started the show. Set up on stage right was Denver’s most renowned live painter Scramble Campbell. Scramble danced wildly as he splattered paint on the canvas. It’s great when he’s in the room; it’s even better when he is on the stage for everyone to see.
Hot Buttered Rum slayed the crowd with classics like Busted in Utah and Working Man. The room reached a fevered pitch as they finished their set, which lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes. HBR is a powerful bluegrass experience and seeing them with Cornmeal was simply stunning, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Cornmeal has truly proven to me in the last year that they are a band that will always deliver. They bust their ass in every city they play. With their high-octane jamgrassadelic style, they produce a palpable energy that is infectious. Cornmeal began the show, as they seem to do most of the time with a flurry of sound. It’s almost akin to an orchestra tuning, before they go into their first song. Their two-hour set had so many highlights and great moments. Whenever I think I’ve seen them at their best, I get a show like the one performed at the Ogden and it just blows me away.
For a band that tours relentlessly, their road tested sound continues to develop. They are so ridiculously tight that their live show leaves nothing to be desired. High points of their set included a strong I’m Coming Back Home and a huge When The World’s Go You Down. We were also treated to a jamgrass version of Steve Miller Band’s Swingtown, which saw Kris Nowak in the pocket getting his rock on. They sounded great and if they had ended there that would have been plenty, but what the crowd received was a half hour encore of Hot Buttered Corn.
(With Cornmeal and All of HBR except Lucas Carlton)
What some of my friends have called a clusterpluck it was a giant stringed hoedown that culminated with Wavy Dave singing a brilliant Sympathy For The Devil. It was a great end to a truly amazing show. The energy from start to finish is the reason why I see both of these bands. The combination of both was something I could only dream of. As I walked out of the Ogden I was buzzing form the adrenaline that built up over the course of the night. My final thought of the evening was that Hot Buttered Corn needs to do a national tour.
The icing on the cake that night was that Mr. Ian Goldberg himself was at the show. I took the opportunity to say hello and let him know how excited I was for the lineup at Summer Camp this year. He wished me well and I told him I would be seeing him a just a few short months.
After night one of moe. at The Boulder Theater I couldn’t wait to get back into the room for round two. We got caught up in the day and ended up walking in just as the boys from New York ripped into Bearsong. This song was on a five-year hiatus in the early 2000’s but has been making it into steady rotation since 2004. However I have never seen it as an opener and I can tell you it most definitely set the mood for the entire night. It felt like a virtual continuation of the power and energy present on in Boulder on Friday. Here is the setlist from PT.
SET I: Bearsong> Runaway Overlude, One Way Traffic, Head> Hector’s Pillow> Bullet> 32 Things
SET II: Awesome Gary> Californ IA> Big World, Rainshine, Cathedral, Captain America> Mexico
ENCORE: Chromatic Nightmare> Rebubula
You can download the recording on Archive. Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting.
Bearsong was like jumping feet first into the hot coals of a raging fire. We got a chance to catch half a breath with the intro to Runaway Overlude before Chuck and Al went into dueling guitar solos. Al even made his way over to Chuck side for the musical battle. One Way Traffic, a Rob song off of Welcome To The La Las, confused a few in the crowd, but I enjoyed it. As I said in my review from night one I really dig how moe. transforms and expands on their newer songs in a live setting. They always seem to fit well into the overall mix for me and I’ve felt this way going back to Wormwood.
Head saw Al taking the reigns with the ferocity that made me a fan of his way back when. It was the beginning of the massive jam that they would ride through the end of the first set. Hector’s Pillow took us back to the rage tone that dominated the majority of the show. The crowd was literally making the floor bounce as they danced fast and strong. Again the energy in the room was powerful and contagious. It was slightly more packed than night one but still maneuverable. I know more than a couple people who jumped ship from Widespread to get some electric-fueled moe. goodness rather than sit through another night of acoustic music. Bullet was definitely the highlight of the first set stretching well over the fifteen-minute mark and showing the crowd that moe. was there to play. They closed with a ripping version of 32 Things that saw Rob slapping his funky bass sublimely.
moe. has been doing a second set opener contest on their Facebook page, picking up odds and ends from the tour and putting them in a box for the person who guesses the most correctly. I can only assume that the Awesome Gary opener was a curveball for their fans. This is yet another song that took an extended hiatus not being played for nine years and only recently making it back onto setlists. I for one had never heard it performed live so I was stoked to see them bust it out. Californ IA was a jam that the let the audience settle into the set before an intense Big World. Vinnie was a rock all weekend holding down the changes and keeping the band in line. Rainshine another newer track, which I got to witness the debut of at Summer Camp last year, was solid. This song just builds properly in live setting and I dig the overall rock attitude. After which they went into my favorite song off of Sticks And Stones, Cathedral. I could have left the show happy then, but the rest of the show would end up being classic moe. gold. Opium felt like a cool breeze washing over everyone in the room and Captain America could have easily been the second set closer. However the boys felt it would be prudent to toss in a seventeen-minute version of Mexico to shut her down correct.
They encored with Chromatic Nightmare, which could honestly be the intro to just about any song in moe.’s catalog before absolutely blowing the roof off the place with Rebubula. Now, the thing about Rebubula is that I edited my Summer Camp Counselor video to this track and they encored the last night of Scamp with it. They did the same in Boulder and I couldn’t help but feel it was another little pat on my back. I know it’s just a great tune to encore with, but a fat hippie can dream can’t he? Overall moe. came to Boulder and blew away all my expectations. The last few years they have worked hard to win over new fans and reinvigorate their fanbase in Colorado. I feel they accomplished just that and had an extremely successful two-night run on the Front Range. Now, I look ahead to another amazing run at Summer Camp and am ready to see them do what they do best at one of their home festivals.
Well Summer Camp made it happen again. As the Summer Camp Counselor it was my job to be their ambassador for moe.’s run out here in Boulder, Colorado. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. Of course I say that a little tongue and cheek, but in all honestly the last year has been incredible. Summer Camp has come through time and time again to get some amazing coverage for this blog. Thanks Summer Camp.
After spending a week in New York City for work I couldn’t ask for a better homecoming than two nights of moe. at The Boulder Theater. This two-night run was originally scheduled for the Ogden, but due to the fact that Widespread Panic scheduled their Wood Tour a few doors down at The Fillmore the shows were moved to Boulder. I honestly couldn’t be happier. I love this room and with the update to their sound system it really is a first class Front Range venue. Amy picked me up at the airport, we cruised around town, and had dinner with some old friends before hitting the show.
We arrived at The Boulder Theater around 8 PM and I picked up my photo pass. I was slightly amused when I saw on the guest list that next to my name it said Summer Camp Counselor. I chuckled to myself as I walked in and found a spot Chuck side for the start of the show. I had been waiting for this night for months and it had finally arrived, I was almost giddy. moe. came to the stage and set the night off like a fuse racing towards a stick of dynamite with a crunchy Skrunk. Here is the rest of the setlist from moe.’s facebook page.
SET I: Skrunk, Nebraska, Zed Naught Z, Puebla> Darkness> Brent Black> Queen Of Everything> Brent Black
SET II: Deep This Time, Up On Cripple Creek> Blue Jeans Pizza> (nh) Smoke, Time Ed> George
ENCORE: Queen Of The Rodeo, Downward Facing Dog
Here is the recording from Chuck Miller on Archive – http://www.archive.org/details/moe2012-02-10.M300.
moe. came out of the corner like a punch drunk boxer with something to prove. With this wake up call entitled Skrunk the crowd snapped to attention and started their two-day boogie strong. They settled into the set with Nebraska. This track is one of my favorites from back in the day and I was happy to see it so early in the performance. The crowd was loosely packed, which made it easy for me to maneuver for photos. There was a distinct energy in the room, like everyone who made it to the show was meant to be there. Jim’s vibraphone bounced off the walls for Z0Z nicely and set up what would be the biggest jam of the first set. Puebla, one of the tracks off of What Happened To The La Las, evolved dramatically in a live setting taking on a dark tone, again accented by Jim’s percussion. The sinister sound went deeper with the segue into Darkness. They ended the first set with a massive Brent Black sandwich with Queen Of Everything taking the place of the roast beef. Clocking in at almost a half hour this was by far my highlight of the set one.
They opened up the second set with a brighter Deep This Time with Rob maintaining his stoic expression belting it out properly. Al took the spotlight on an unexpected version of The Band’s Up On Cripple Creek, which stretched well over the ten-minute mark. moe. transitioned beautifully into Blue Jeans Pizza and it was right around this point that I had a modest epiphany. Unlike many of the other jambands in the scene, moe. has never broken up or really even taken an extended hiatus. This is the reason they are perhaps the tightest band in the world of jam. They are all on the same page, and they make it work well, and in their twenty second year of performing live they are honestly sounding better than ever. After another new track off of La Las they gave us perhaps the best Time Ed I’ve ever seen them play. Stretching past the twenty-four minute mark it was one of those instances where they went so deep into the jam I had to ask myself, “Are they still playing Time Ed?” It was the epitome of sickness and only possibly equaled by the twenty plus minute George to close the second set. The end of the show was simply jaw dropping and proof that moe. may be one of the few bands left that truly jams. I mean you have to ask what other band out there in scene plays two songs for forty-five minutes to close a show? They encored with a quick Queen Of The Rodeo before giving us an extended take on Downward Facing Dog.
The whole show came off incredibly well and again reaffirmed my love of moe. They shred and aren’t afraid to really blow the backend out of their songs. I got to chill for a bit backstage after the show and let the boys know that they did Colorado right. I headed back to Fort Collins with a huge grin on my face and serious feeling of anticipation for night two in Boulder.