Vine Street Pub Block Party 9.17.11

Words & Photos By J-man

On Saturday, September 17th, the Denver brew pub Vine Street in conjunction with Boulder's Mountain Sun threw a block party featuring Yonder Mountain String Band's Dave Johnston and Drew Emmitt of Leftover Salmon/Emmitt-Nershi Band. Johnston and Emmitt were joined by guitarist John Ridnell and bassist Jeff Kazmierski for an afternoon of bluegrass music.

I arrived at Vine Street to find a sizable crowd gathered for an afternoon of music. Drew and Dave tuned their instruments as they got ready to take the stage which faced down the street and was enclosed by metal barricades. Security was checking identification as folks filed into the enclosed area. There were several tents under which the staff was serving reasonably priced beer. The were also grills on which the staff was grilling hamburgers, etc. Although it was crowded, the setup was great.

I made my way to the front of the stage to get a few good shots. As I did, it began to pour and lightning flashed in the sky. I decided to move away from the metal stage and sought refuge in the back room of the brewery with several other folks. We found ourselves surrounded by kind staff and large brewing vats. After twenty minutes or so, the rain passed and we re-emerged to get the show started.

Drew Emmitt & Dave Johnston Live at Vine Street Pub on September 17, 2011.

Owner Paul Nashak took the stage to introduce his business partners and the band. They tuned and began with an instrumental number. They sounded good as they mellowly picked through some standard bluegrass progressions. Dave at times seemed a beat behind. The banjo is a crucial instrument that is utilized to keep the count in most bluegrass music, yet Dave almost always seems to struggle as he would stop playing altogether to try to find the beat. Drew and John kept the jam going with solid picking and consistency.

As the set unfolded the same held true. Dave and Drew's vocals sounded good together as they harmonized and sang with smiles on their faces. Drew's voice is well suited for bluegrass music and his high register rang out perfectly. The highlights of the set were "Whiskey Before Breakfast", "Wild Bill Jones" and "John Hardy".

I enjoyed the set and the atmosphere. The music was alright. Dave's playing was pretty sloppy as usual, but Drew picked up Dave's slack and tore it up on the mandolin, with his fingers flying up, down and across the neck of the instrument.

They announced the final song of the set and I made my way to the back of the stage for a few candid shots...

There would be a second set though I didn't stick around to catch it. I had seen and heard all that I needed to hear and the comedian that followed the band was annoying, engaging in call and response banter with the crowd who booed him from the get-go. I dug the setup for the event and look forward to future events at Vine Street Pub.

J-man's Photos From The Show


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