Cornmeal with Hot Buttered Rum 3.3.12
The Ogden Theatre
Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock
Over the years Cornmeal has become a not to miss show when they come to town. After seeing their stellar performances at Summer Camp and State Bridge this summer, I’ve become so enamored with their sound that I find myself anticipating their Front Range shows months in advance. Their co-bill with Hot Buttered Rum only added to my excitement for this particular night at The Ogden in Denver, Colorado. I haven’t seen Hot Buttered Rum since November of 2010 and in that time Matt Butler left the band to pursue Everyone Orchestra full time and they replaced him with Lucas Carlton. He has a slightly less prominent sound in the mix but is still very accomplished in his role as their new drummer. They opened with a rowdy "Crest."
SET I: The Crest, Texas Eagle, Late In The Evening, Missoula To Miami, Squall, Let The Love Come Through, Busted In Utah, Blackberry Pie, Entangled, Fruit Of The Vine, Angeline The Baker, Ramblin’ Girl, Beneath The Blossoms, Poison Oak, Working Man
The new Hot Buttered Rum has a fresh sound and the solid energy that made me a fan of their music way back when. They still tour pretty heavily but have not been as prominent on The Front Range as they have in years past. The room began to fill in as they started the show. Set up on stage right was Denver’s most renowned live painter Scramble Campbell. Scramble danced wildly as he splattered paint on the canvas. It’s great when he’s in the room; it’s even better when he is on the stage for everyone to see. Hot Buttered Rum slayed the crowd with classics like "Busted in Utah" and "Working Man." The room reached a fevered pitch as they finished their set, which lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes. HBR is a powerful bluegrass experience and seeing them with Cornmeal was simply stunning, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
Cornmeal has truly proven to me in the last year that they are a band that will always deliver. They bust their ass in every city they play. With their high-octane jamgrassadelic style, they produce a palpable energy that is infectious. Cornmeal began the show, as they seem to do most of the time with a flurry of sound. It’s almost akin to an orchestra tuning, before they go into their first song. Their two-hour set had so many highlights and great moments. Whenever I think I’ve seen them at their best, I get a show like the one performed at the Ogden and it just blows me away. For a band that tours relentlessly, their road tested sound continues to develop. They are so ridiculously tight that their live show leaves nothing to be desired. High points of their set included a strong "I’m Coming Back Home" and a huge "When The World’s Got You Down." We were also treated to a jamgrass version of Steve Miller Band’s "Swingtown," which saw Kris Nowak in the pocket getting his rock on. They sounded great and if they had ended there that would have been plenty, but what the crowd received was a half hour encore of Hot Buttered Corn.
ENCORE: Pay Yer Dues, Honkytonk Tequilla, I Can See The Light (At The End of The Tunnel), Sympathy For The Devil (With Cornmeal and All of HBR except Lucas Carlton)
What some of my friends have called a clusterpluck was in fact a giant stringed hoedown that culminated with Wavy Dave singing a brilliant "Sympathy For The Devil." It was a great end to a truly amazing show. The energy from start to finish is the reason why I see both of these bands. The combination of both was something I could only dream of. As I walked out of the Ogden I was buzzing form the adrenaline that built up over the course of the night. My final thought of the evening was that Hot Buttered Corn needs to do a national tour.
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