Whitewater Ramble's Mardi Gras 2.21.12

The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By Carly Marthis & J-man

With the coming of Mardi Gras came what felt like an annual event, Whitewater Ramble with special guests in Boulder! WWR was joined by The Henhouse Prowlers for an evening that would mark my first time seeing both WWR & HHP with their newest members. Backstage special guests began to turn out and the party began with a mix of musicians tuning and jamming. At one point the Henhouse Prowlers began a warm-up/pickin' session that caught the attention of the whole room triggering everyone to stop what they were doing and gather around the suited band of professionals. We joked with Joey Porter (Motet, Juno What) about his role in the event before having a conversation with Ben Wright (Banjo, HHP) and Patrick Sites (Mandolin, WWR) for MusicMarauders Live. The conversation begged some interesting questions and yielded some satisfying responses. The time came for the Henhouse Prowlers to take the stage, so with that we followed them upstairs to the two thirds full room.

Their reception was fantastic as it was clear that many had turned out specifically to see HHP, sporting Henhouse Prowlers & [omit name] t-shirts. The set began with a lot of energy and excitement as the band announced that they would be entertaining the Boulder crowd for the next hour! The Prowlers went through a near perfect set of traditionals and originals, reflecting the respect, knowledge and history of assembling a set of bluegrass music. Whether considering their two newest members had only been with the band for two months or not, their playing was top notch. The group shared the single mic equally, rotating in and out as the compositions unfolded.

I found myself really impressed with the development of the three-part harmony of Jon Goldfine (Bass), Ben Wright (Banjo) and Grant Ziolkowski (Mandolin). Factor in the newest vocal contributors, Dan Andree (fiddle) and Starr Moss (Guitar) and you have yourself one hell of a vocal powerhouse. The other essential aspect would be instrumentation and rest assured this traveling group of troubadours had it covered. Dan's fiddle playing brought back a much needed element of HHP as their previous fiddle player, Ryan Hinshaw, was an immeasurable piece of the equation. I was also extremely impressed with Starr's picking! I noticed several subtle contributions of his that added new flavor to older songs.

Following an incredible set that featured some great new songs, the band excited the stage with big smiles. Backstage Whitewater Ramble warmed up, picked and dawned Mardi Gras masks for the occasion. The stage manager popped her head in downstairs and informed WWR that they were ready for them. The band headed upstairs to a one third third full venue, with en estimated half of the crowd departing after the HHP set.

Whitewater Ramble came out swinging equally as hard as the prowlers, featuring some energetic songs and instrumentation. The newest incarnation of Ramble sounded great! Added bonuses came in the form of Joe Lessard (Fiddle, Head For The Hills) & Joey Porter (Keys, Motet & Juno What)! Joe fit right in, however Joey took time to open up. When he did, he sounded great and fit the vibe well. Howard Montgomery's father also joined here and there on the accordion, adding an interesting almost zydeco sound to the mix.

Newest member Zach Daniels (Banjo) fit well and impressed with his picking abilities, as did Paul Kemp (Drums). Also welcomed to the stage were former members Luke Emig (Drums) and Adam Galblum (Fiddle) oddly enough. All in all the vibe was great and though the turn out was really low, WWR played well and even did a balloon drop. We had a great time that evening at The Fox Theatre, however, it seemed as though the event was poorly scheduled. Yes, it was "Fat Tuesday" and a great time to celebrate Mardi Gras, but also it was a Tuesday in Boulder which translated into a very limited turn out for a band that plays in Colorado pretty consistently.

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