WhiteWater Ramble- Denver 2.19.11
Whitewater Ramble Live at Quixote's True Blue on February 19, 2011. <---Direct Archive Link
Words, Photos & Video By J-man
Audio Recording By Corey Sandoval
Leading up to the WhiteWater Ramble show at Quixote's, excitement was building. The anticipation rose from the mere fact that we had only witnessed WWR doing opening sets. That evening at Quixote's would mark WWR's first headlining show in Denver in some time. As the show approached, I discussed with Adam Gulblum (fiddle) song options, approach, etc. That night, the turn out was a lot lower than I had anticipated. WWR is a Colorado band, where were their fans? Was it lack of promotion on the band and venue's part? Was it that folks had taken the "I've seen them" approach? That night in Denver would be very telling in regards to what the band is capable of and provided some insight into the future of WhiteWater Ramble.
We arrived at Quixote's to an almost empty venue. I was confused based on how late it was. The opening band was casually tearing down their gear and WWR was no where to be seen. I headed to the bathroom just prior to the set where I ran into Adam and Patrick Sites (mandolin). I inquired about the band doing two sets and Adam informed me that they would be doing one set with a drum and bass breakdown in the middle. I was a little bit unsure about how that would play out and only time would tell.
Drinks were purchased, Corey was in position to tape the show and some folks had filed into the small bar. WhiteWater Ramble took the stage and began with quite a bit of energy. This exact energy is what drew me to WWR initially. From a fiery "Pack Mule Blues" opener, the band went into one of my favorite traditionals, "Going to The Races". The original that followed, "Permission to Love", brought the first slower point of the evening. I used that opportunity to hit the bar and the restroom. I returned to catch "Fast as Lightning", a song that I have heard WWR play frequently and a song that opened the explorative jam door for the evening.
"Baggot Inn" was a fiddle tune with an Irish sounding intro. It was exciting, and at that time, Quixote's began to fill-in and dance without fear of judgement. I held out hope that more folks would pile in and fill the place up. "Pulled Pork", a song that I have really come to appreciate, was next. Then it happened... The lights went crazy and the band dropped into a crazy jam. Patrick Latella (guitar) took over. He dismantled Quixote's and had me staring with my jaw hanging open. The tones coming from the stage were super spacey and the band began to venture into an extremely loose realm. I was really into what was going on and it was by far some of the most interesting exploration that I have heard WWR go into...
Following a raging "Pulled Pork", WWR went into a slow and uninteresting "Watermelon Man". The melody was pretty, but lost my interest early on. Again, I took that opportunity to grab a drink and hit the restroom. "Nine Pound Hammer", another great traditional, was next to follow. I began to lose interest halfway through the tune until Luke Emig (drums) began to tear it apart. Playing off the drums, Adam entered on the fiddle and picked it up. "Drawing Straws" continued with Luke's heavy drumming in solo fashion. The rest of the band entered and they continued with another from their original repertoire. Patrick Sites tore up his electric mandolin and stole my attention for a chunk of the song leading back into a full band melody.
"Purgatory Shuffle" was next, a solid rock/bluegrass tune played the same way as in previous shows. Then came a very interesting portion of the show (on many different levels).
"So, we were thinking about taking a set break, but instead I think we're just going to do bass and drums for a second so a couple of us can go to the bathroom" Patrick Sites announced to the crowd.
This was a mistake. It's a jamband show...they should have taken a setbreak, even if short. Folks heard "setbreak" and "bathroom" and wandered off to smoke, get more beer, hit the restrooms and check out the band in the back room of the venue. Luke and Howard Montgomery (bass) began their portion of the show soon after the announcement. It was quite electronic sounding and went into some very unique stuff for WWR. Luke's subtle and consistent hits paved the way for a really danceable groove while Howard was all over the bass, creating an impressive tone and style. The folks that were left in the room (myself included) were dancing and enjoying that portion of the show. Variety is good, and though I was not hugely impressed with the variety within the setlist, I was impressed with a couple of moments of musical variation oddly placed within the set.
Patrick Latella came back out and added another layer to the jam. The drum and bass portion went into Bob Dylan's "Hurricane" another song that WWR seems to perform often. Admittedly, they do the song justice. "Dry n' Dusty" came next and featured Adam performing solo on the fiddle. A lot chatter in the crowd followed what sounded like Adam warming up on the stage. Confusion once again set in for me. The rest of the band enter slowly and with reservation. "Tear in The Desert' led to "Long Dusty Highway" an enjoyable tune with the drum beat of several other WWR songs. Once again Patrick Lattella took over on the guitar, followed by Adam displaying his deep talent.
"Trouble", a song from of their new album All Night Drive, began with a familiar, friendly sounding melody. They turned up the speed a bit as the the vocals entered the mix with a driving pace. Howard attacked the bass, as Patrick Sites led the band through starts and stops. It was enjoyable but once again the song had little variation from the previous times I had seen them perform it.
Being that we were at Quixote's (a Colorado Grateful Dead Bar), I mentioned to the band that they should play some Dead. That being said, I was excited at the initially melody of "Althea". The band ventured through some pleasant progressions and Adam mocked the melody with his mouth as he played it on the fiddle. I thoroughly enjoyed the show until I realized that “Althea” could be the only Dead tune of the evening. Why they would choose "Althea" puzzled me further. After the conclusion of "Althea", we departed from Quixote's.
I enjoyed the evening as a whole, and as always, enjoyed WhiteWater Ramble. With that being said, I was hoping for a bit more variation and range within the music itself. Perhaps this lack of variance is the reason why folks didn't turn out like I thought they would. Another reason may have been the limited amount of street level promotion that occurred before the show. Has WWR's time come and gone? How much farther can a band go five-plus years into their career when it can't draw people in their home state? Are they going to continue opening for bands of a similar genre or continue to tour in Wyoming, Iowa and Nebraska? It’s frustrating for a fan like myself, and I hope the best for WhiteWater Ramble, a band with loads of potential.
J-man's Photo Gallery From The Show