Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Colorado with The Henhouse Prowlers (Part One)

Words By J-man
Photos & Video By Carly Marthis

*As I write this, Colorado burns. Thousands of acres in the FourMile Canyon area have burned destroying several homes and lives. Our thoughts go out to those affected.*

For some time I had been looking forward to getting out to Colorado to explore what I consider one of the most beautiful states in this country. What I didn't know when I scheduled my trip, was that the one of my favorite bands, The Henhouse Prowlers would be in Colorado as well.

The day that YarmonyGrass Festival wound up would bring a decent drive from Bond, CO to the Denver area to re-charge and prepare for the evening ahead. Coming off of a festival usually leaves one worn out and in need of a day or two to re-coop. But, I was in Colorado, surrounded by some of the best folks in the world, and I was ENERGIZED. So to Boulder we would head, to see the Prowlers at the Mountain Sun.

Sunday August 22nd, 2010:

My guest from YarmonyGrass and good friend, Carly accompanied me for the evening. This would be her first experience with the Prowlers. She seemed excited, though I would assume she was feeding off of the excitement and energy that I was putting off. It had been since June that I had seen them and I looked forward to hearing them live. Over the years I have developed a delightfully awkward relationship with the band, full of poking fun, non-sense as well as admiration of their musical ability and character.

We pulled up to The Mountain Sun, to find a spot right in front of the Brewery. We chowed down on our sandwiches in the car as the band took notice of my presence. Ben Wright (Banjo) looked out the window, smiling and laughing. He leaned over and pointed me out to Jon Goldfine (Bass) and Ryan Hinshaw (Fiddle). They seemed excited that I had turned out, which not only meant the world to me; but had me even more pumped up.

We entered the long/narrow and crowded bar. I turned to say hello to the band who was all smiles. Carly and I made our way to the back for some drinks. After a long wait and over-crowding, I ordered my usual white wine and back to the front we went. The band was already getting at it and it sounded great.

Ben was making his typical squinted banjo face, Jon had a big grin on his face, Eric was smiling and making animated faces, while Ryan stared off into space. As I looked around the wook out slowly began. Just in the nick of time, someone grabbed my shoulder... Murray.

The wook out started with one "gentleman" dancing ridiculously and uncontrollably, then it was two. It became a dance off of sorts, featuring massive amounts of tomfoolery. Based on the moves these cats were putting out, I figured they'd be smiling and having a time... But they were in the zone.

Ben looked up from playing several times to see the wookery and glance over at me, to share in that moment as he knows of my great appreciation for the art of wooking out. We would laugh and I make a rage face. This continued through most of the first set.

The first set was littered with some of my favorites as well as a handful of sound issues. At one point the sound went out, and I quickly pushed through the crowded bar to get to the main power source that had been knocked out of the socket. I plugged it back in and on they went. They did a great versions of "Carolina Moon", "Train Robbery" and "40 Acres & A Mule". The instrumentation was tight, the sound quality was mediocre at best, but the energy was high. I mean, it was a Sunday night, the place was packed, and the dance floor had been taken over by folks going nuts. At one point the band mentioned how the last time they played in Colorado, I sent them a rose, courtesy of Murray from thousands of miles away. I had a good laugh.

The Prowlers took a short break, mingling with spaced out fans and stepping out for some fresh Colorado air. I spoke with Eric about Bill Keith and joke with Ben about how he was a wook. I introduced them to Carly and Murray.

The second set began with the same energy that it left off with. The band did a great job of sharing the lead, picking through songs featuring every member of the band both on their instrument and on lead vocals. The harmonies were consistent as usual, and wreaked of practice and passion. The Henhouse Prowlers, most simply put are a top notch band and one of the best up and coming bands on both the Jam and traditional scene.

Somewhere in the second set the band mentioned my reminding them of the lyrics to "Simplify" and threw it out to me. I was all smiles. As the evening progressed the crowd became sloppier. Beers were spilled, glasses we broken, folks were staggering. Somewhere towards the end a "Helter Skelter" was played, and with that I was satisfied.

Following the show, Carly and I stepped out front to talk to Ryan and Ben. We talked about the upcoming Henhouse Prowlers show that I was hosting in Michigan. Ben also mentioned that he left me a voicemail inviting me into the studio, but as I do not check voicemails, I didn't receive it. That being said, we discussed a good time for me to come up to the studio the following day.

As we were heading back inside, I smiled at Ben and Ryan and said "It's been a hell of a year for you guys." He smiled and said; "I actually thought we would have a bigger following..." I laughed and said "Dude, you're a fucking bluegrass band... What do you want!?!" He shoved me, cracking up; realizing that I may be right. Regardless, I travel all over the country for shows and festivals, and everywhere I go people are talking about the Henhouse Prowlers. I get compliments left and right on my Henhouse Prowlers shirt. I'm not sure Ben, or the band knows the full scope of their fanbase...

Carly and I drove back to Denver, both smiling. I'm pretty sure she enjoyed her first Prowlers experience. The next day we would be joining the band in the studio and seeing them Sancho's in Denver. I was glad to be in Carly's company and thrilled to have seen one of my favorite bands in what has become one of my favorite places... Colorado.


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