Kyle Hollingsworth Band w/ Michael Kang 11.19.11

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By J-man
Audio By Ed Simon & Corey Sandoval
(Kind Recordings)

On the brink of the String Cheese Incident's "Roots Run Deep" tour, fans were given an opportunity to see a preview of what energy was to come! That night fans found themselves at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver, CO for a sold out KHB show with Michael Kang. For a lucky few fans that saw the note on Kyle's website, they were treated to a free beer tasting from 8pm - 9pm prior to the show. After tasting his festival pale ale last spring, Hoopla, I wasn't going to miss out on a chance to sample some of his other selected beers. Outside of Cervantes we found a line of folks waiting to get in. We obtained our credentials and made our way through The Other Side (the small venue next door to the main room) into The Ballroom.

Cervantes was buzzing. Roster McCabe was sound checking on the stage as Dave Tash prepared the soundboard. Carly and I made our way to the bar to start the tasting before folks flooded into the building for free beer. I began with the spiced ale as did Carly. Mine was awful. It came off as flat and almost too malty. I glanced over at Carly and her face described a similar displeasure. On the second round, I went for a vanilla porter. It was not as bad as the spiced ale, but still near undrinkable. Eventually the doors opened and hippies poured into Cervantes. The beer tasting was in full swing. We made our way back to the bar and while the bar was doling out free beer, we made the difficult decision to purchase a duece duece of Hoopla. It was the right choice.

Roster McCabe took the stage as Cervantes filled in. They sounded good from the get go. High energy jams, coupled with some interesting dance breakdowns and instrumentation kept the bulk of the crowd focused on their output.

I glanced down at my phone to see a text from Dave Watts of The Motet, who would be on drums with KHB that evening. We headed backstage to meet up with Dave and to have a conversation for our new podcast, MusicMarauders Live! Steping out back of Cervantes for some peace and quiet we found a handful of fans who informed us that the show was sold out and they were looking for help getting into the show. We did our interview and headed back inside just in time to catch Kyle Hollingsworth with Roster McCabe.

You could tell that Roster McCabe was excited. The intensity peaked and the opening set wound down. If given the opportunity, be sure to check out Roster McCabe.

Kyle Hollingsworth Band Live at Cervantes Masterpiece on November 19, 2011.

Looking around Cervantes, it was hard to believe it was a sold out show based on the crowd size. I've attended sold out shows at Cervantes where it was so packed that one could barely move, but that night it was comfortably sold. Finally, The Kyle Hollingsworth Band hit the stage.

The crowd was overwhelmingly excited for the show and as it began, Cervantes broke into an all out dance-party get down. KHB (that night) was basically a combination of The String Cheese Incident and The Motet. The front line included Kyle Hollingsworth (keys), Michael Kang (mandolin) and Dan Schwindt (guitar). The rhythm section (which is by far my favorite in Colorado) included Garrett Sayers (bass) and Dave Watts (drums). Collectively, I'm not sure that there is a more coherent and enjoyable occasional project.

Kyle's leadership and ability on the organ and synth was fantastic. He would go from soulful to in-your-face-dance without hesitation. His command of the keys was impressive. At the back of the stage Dave held the band together with his characteristic chops on the kit. He quickly showed himself as the glue of the band through some intense jams. Standing between Kyle and Dave was my favorite bass player and yours, Garrett Sayers. Garrett blew minds that night, shredding the bass as tastefully as anyone had ever seen. Next to Garrett was Kang. His signature sound was so clean and really elevated the project as he does with most that he sits in with. He took a lot of the jams and compositions to a whole other level. Next to Michael was Schwindt on guitar. Dan's playing began subtle, leading to a total assault of jazz oriented instrumentation.

During the first set Kyle called Joey Porter (Motet, Juno What) to the stage for some additional funk. Joey tore it up and took the project even higher. Between songs Kyle announced he would be doing a brew fest in Chicago following the String Cheese run before launching back into a deep jam that ended with the announcement of set break.

The second set brought just as much energy and depth, if not more, than the first. The music blew me away. I was consistently impressed with how cohesive and flowing a lot of the songs were. The band did a great job of controlling the mood and the vibe with their peaks and lows. For me, what sets KHB apart from a lot of jam band "side projects" is their tendency to lean on jazz tones and scales through a decent portion of their compositions. It satisfied me to no end.

The end of the second set brought a roar from the crowd and the return of KHB to the stage. There were two encores that evening, the first of which was a spacey jam that ran all over the place. The second and final track of the evening was Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On." It seemed out of place from the rest of the set, but left the fulfilled audience with a sense of nostalgia and familiarity.

Ultimately, the show was incredible. There is no band on the scene that does what KHB does on such an elevated level. The addition of Michael Kang and Joey Porter brought an unimaginable amount of excitement. That night in Denver was one of the most enjoyable shows that I had seen in some time and was by far the best KHB show that I had ever witnessed.

The stage was set for The String Cheese Incident's Roots Run Deep tour...

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