Monday, April 30, 2012

Head For The Hills w/ Nershi 4.20.12


The Bluebird Theater
Denver, CO

Words By Brandon Picard
Photos By Jon Prins
Audio Recording By Corey Sandoval (
Kind Recordings)

April 20th. Year in and year out 4/20 is an epic night in Colorado. Musical acts from in and around the great state flood to Denver for a night of beer drinking, ganja smoking, and... oh yeah, music! Head for the Hills playing the Bluebird Theatre was undoubtedly a 420 treat for all Denver bluegrass fans. The bill also included String Cheese’s Bill Nershi accompanied by his wife, Jillian. Bluegrassers were out in full effect for this wonderful night of music and celebration.

Bill and Jillian Nershi started the night off with a duet of folk and bluegrass melodies warming up the Bluebird Theatre on Friday night. With a following like the String Cheese Incident has, I was not surprised to see Cheese Heads lining the front of the Bluebird, fixated on Billy’s melodies. With some story telling backed by heartfelt folk tunes, Billy and Jillian captivated the theatre.

The vibe that Friday night was different than most. The sense of camaraderie throughout the venue was unprecedented. Hugs and laughter filled the theatre. I got a sense that when H4TH plays Denver; the love turns out, in the form of smiling fans. I felt like I was at a Christmas party with the amount of “Happy Holidays” I received. Resonating throughout the Bluebird was a constant stream of well wishes and brotherhood. By the time Billy and Jilian finished their marvelous set, the majority of the theatre had filled in with its occupiers for the evening.


Head For The Hills Live at Bluebird Theater on April 20, 2012.



Set I: Little Sadie, Midnight Highway, A Bowl of Bula, Never Does, Nooks and Crannies, Run to the Hills, Lost in the Loop, Bosun Ridely, Japenese Cowboy, Manzanita, Time to Spare, Untitled, Solar Bowling Shoes, Scrap Metal, Priscilla the Chinchilla, My Angelie

Set II: Indian Creek*, East Virginia Blues#, The Mighty Quinn#, Music for a Found Harmonium > One Foot in the Grave, Randall Collins, Mockingbird, Wild Horse, Dependency Co., Hornets, Thunderstorm, New Lee Highway Blues > Runaway, Scribe's Eye>Down the River Road

Encore: Encore-Tribute to Levon Helm, The Weight#, Goin' Down#

Entire Show with James Thomas (Keys)

* = w/ Bill Nershi
# = w/ Bill Nershi & Jillian Nershi

H4TH took the stage to a massive applause with almost embarrassingly proud smiles. They poured right into their set with a western styled melody. The hot potato styled session of flat picking, mandolin strumming, fiddle slaying and bass slapping clued me in on why this band has been named Denver’s “best bluegrass” band two years in a row at Westword Magazines Music Showcase. The growth of this band cannot be overlooked. Exploding on the scene in the last few years, H4TH are a staple in Colorado Bluegrass.

The Brand new sound H4TH brings is a flavor I had yet to taste (Boy was it delicious). As if emulating the mountains, the band rolled along endlessly depicting their version of an acoustic landscape. As the show progressed I had a sense that there were very few H4TH newcomers. The enthusiastic crowd seemed to sing every tune from start to finish. I was one of the few newcomers on board and boy was I happy to be a part of it. A few songs in and the quartet turned into a quintet with the addition of keyboardist and honorary H4TH member James Thomas. I enjoyed the extra dimension although it wasn’t completely necessary. With or without the keys H4TH played a nearly flawless set of improvisation and traditional melodies fueled by their youthfulness.

As their set ended and H4TH returned for their encore (with Bill and Jillian) I had a sense we were in for a treat. Some very kind words about The Band’s Levon Helm silenced the respectful crowd. After a few very powerful statements regarding the importance of Levon, H4TH along with Bill and Jillian broke into “The Bands” hit “The Weight”. It was clearly and emotional setting as folks throughout the venue locked arms and sang nearly every word of the timeless classic. I truly was honored to be a part of something so spectacular.

It's no wonder Head for the Hills is winning awards and packing venues. The progressive acoustic sounds they bring are mesmerizing. I look forward to the next time these guys turn out!

Jon Prins' Photo Gallery

www.headforthehillsmusic.com

Saturday, April 28, 2012

One Hell of a Weekend in Denver!


May 4th - 7th, 2012

Words By J-man

Denver, CO is known for it's beauty, altitude and thriving music scene, but the weekend of May 4th brings an elevated level of excitement to this already "high" city! The weekend of May 4th brings such action as two nights of the supergroup, Game 7, consisting of Michael Kang (The String Cheese Incident), Aron Magner (The Disco Biscuits), Pete Wall (Textiles), Eric Gould & Darren Pujalet (Particle) to Quixote's True Blue! Just across town at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom on Friday, Colorado's Juno What will be joined by The Wizard of Woo himself, Mr. Bernie Worrell (Parliament Funkadelic)! Speaking of local, Colorado's own, Whitewater Ramble, will be playing several local shows with The Henhouse Prowlers, closing out their tri-city run with a Saturday show at Cervantes Other Side!


As a consequence of all of the local talent in town, Textiles featuring Pete Wall, in conjunction with MusicMarauders and The Highland Tap & Burger have booked a special FREE afternoon live recording session with Steve Molitz (Particle, Phil Lesh & Friends) and Ryan Bunrett (Signal Path) at the Highland Tap on Sunday! That evening Dimitri's Ascent, featuring members of Particle, will perform a "BeeGee's/Michael Jackson Disco Party" at Quixote's!

The weekend closes out on Monday with the gentleman from Particle hosting a Roger Waters after-party at Quixote's True Blue! The Garrett Sayers Trio will open and Garrett will be playing bass with Particle!

It's true, you will not be able to catch them all, however, here is to trying!

-Friday May 4th, 2012-

Game 7 at Quixote's True Blue

Juno What w/ Bernie Worrell at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom

-Saturday May 5th, 2012-

Game 7 at Quixote's True Blue

Whitewater Ramble w/ The Henhouse Prowlers at Cervantes Other Side

-Sunday May 6th, 2012-

Textiles feat. Steve Molitz & Ryan Burnett at The Highland Tap & Burger

Dimitri's Ascent w/ Members of Particle at Quixote's True Blue

-Monday May 7th, 2012-

Particle w/ The Garrett Sayers Trio at Quixote's True Blue

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Motet: Two Nights in Colorado "It's Just Business"


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


What follows is the perspective of a spoiled fan located in the heart of Motet country, who has been seeing the band non-stop for over a year, through love, admiration, respect, amazement, friendship and multiple perspectives. The band has been selling out venues on the Front Range consistently and on the brink of national touring, following a handful of sold out west coast dates, the Motet returned to Colorado before heading east.

April 20th, 2012
Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO


The day would mark the "high" holy holiday of 4.20 and who better to celebrate with than The Motet? The show sold out early in the day triggering a frenzy among fans who had been locked out. Pictures began to surface on Facebook of the evening's light rig, teasing the imagination of both those attending and those who were not. Many looked forward to a Motet original show, interlaced with some anticipated covers. The Motet rarely does shows featuring their own material and have become more of a funkified cover band of sorts.

It seems both monetarily and demand-wise, covers are what have elevated the following and exposure of The Motet. The door opener as of late would be the band's "Funk is Dead" featuring the music of the scene's most coveted bands, The Grateful Dead. It seemed an odd choice, as many of the band's members were either unfamiliar with Dead music, or were not fans. As far as meeting the demand and utilizing the popularity of any band, the Dead was a wise choice. The following evening's show in Boulder would feature that material, but on Friday night it was all about the original compositions.

Cervantes was packed, as is always the case with Motet shows. It seems that every time The Motet plays Cervantes, they bring in different light rigs and aesthetics. That evening we were treated to LED panels and some unique visual patters. The original material seemed more danceable and less composed than some of the themed sets. Through impressive instrumentation and the constant passing of solos, the band impressed the Denver crowd.

The music, though energetic, seemed somewhat hollow as if it were missing something. Maybe it was just the volume of shows that this fan had seen, but it felt lite. The instrumentation was still strong, but the band seemed to be going through the motions. On the other side of that notion, The band was clearly doing something right, as Cervantes was packed and folks were going crazy. Without a doubt, that night Cervantes was the place to be.


Knowing that we would see The Motet the following night, we exited the sweltering venue to save some of our energy. Was I being overly critical or was this a matter of a fan getting burnt out on one of his favorites?

April 21st, 2012
The Boulder Theater
Boulder, CO


Excitement was in the air at The Boulder Theater, as the town was buzzing for the evening's sold out "Funk is Dead" show. For many, the evening would mark another tally on the already high ratio of "Funk is Dead" shows as of late. Would they explore new Dead material? Or would they play the same sets that they had been playing since the previous Halloween?


The Motet Live at Boulder Theater on April 21, 2012.



Set I: They Love Each Other, Playing In The Band, Feel Like A Stranger, Casey Jones, Fire On The Mountain, Turn On Your Love Light, At A Siding> Terrapin Flyer> Terrapin Refrain, Shakedown Street

Set II: Help On The Way> Slipknot!> Franklin's Tower, New Speedway Boogie, Dancing In The Street, St. Stephen, The Music Never Stopped, Dark Star Intro> Scarlet Begonias> Dark Star Reprise

Encore: And We Bid You Goodnight, Loose Lucy, Stella Blue

As the first set unfolded, it became clear that the band was sticking to the material that they had previously done... over and over. I began to wonder what the strategy was in playing the same Dead sets repeatedly in the same region. Especially in a region with the most loyal fans within' their following. While discussing the "Funk is Dead" material with fans, many indicated that they were tired of hearing the same covers and for many, that night would mark the third or fourth Dead themed show in as many months. For others who hadn't yet caught the material, that night would be a treat.

Predictably, The Motet performed the majority of the fan favorites. In relation to the other Dead shows that The Motet had performed, that night in Boulder seemed loose and noodley. The bright horn section made up for some hit or miss vocal contributions. The audience helped to contribute by singing some of their favorite lines. Most impressive that night was the guitar work of Ryan Jalbert and Dan Schwindt. The two guitarists traded licks and wailed collectively.


The Boulder Theater was packed and we made the decision to step outside for some fresh air. As we walked, we spoke of how we had seen this show a handful of times recently and concluded that maybe we would just head home for the night. We knew what would follow on the setlist and presumably, we would see "Funk is Dead" again. That's the kind of feeling a fan doesn't want to feel. It bordered on boredom. Maybe it was my fault for seeing the band so consistently in such a small amount of time. But isn't that what a fan is supposed to do? Was I spoiled by the previously consistent ability of the band to always impress? Was that night in Boulder just a "warm-up" for the road dates?

Reflection set in on the growing success of The Motet. Recent personnel shifts and changes within' the band have reflected the direction and intention of Dave Watts in elevating his project. People have always asked about why the Motet doesn't turn it up and tour more. This may be the answer to their pleading as Dave seems intent on spreading "Funk is Dead" around the country. If you're a fan of Dead music and haven't seen The Motet's "Funk is Dead," it is imperative that you not miss these shows! The compositions are bright, funky and true to the melodies and licks that you love. The material has become a catalyst for national growth.

Carly & J-man's Photo Gallery

www.themotet.net

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wakarusa Spotlight: Del McCoury, Emmitt-Nershi, Stringdusters, H4H,


Words By J-man

Wakarusa brings the festival goer a wide variety of genres, but possibly none more relevant to the atmosphere and region than bluegrass. The hills of the Ozarks seem the perfect backdrop for some good old fashion pickin' and grinnin'. From traditional to newgrass, today's sampler gives you a taste of a few styles that will be up for the taking at this year's Wakarusa...



The Del McCoury Band/Travelin McCourys:

The Del McCoury band takes the cake for the most traditional of the bunch, featuring one of the original Bluegrass Boys in Del. Also present will be the newest incarnation out of the McCoury camp, The Travelin' McCourys. In this project Del steps aside for jam looper, Keller Williams to take over. What will be consistent between the two projects is a level of instrumentation far above that of most bands present at the festival.

Keller & The Travelin' McCoury Live at Suwannee Music Park on October 21, 2011.



Set I: Instrumental, Hobo Song, A Deeper Shade of Blue, Gallivanting, Sawing On The Strings, Banjo instrumental, Freaker By The Speaker, Rocky Road Blues, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Evangelina, Portapotty, Mullet Cut, On the Lonesome Wind, Broken Convertible, Friend of the Devil

*First live performance of these two bands together

www.delmccouryband.com

www.thetravelinmccourys.com



Emmitt-Nershi Band:

Emmitt-Nershi Band is the result of a collision between a couple of the scene's powerhouses, The String Cheese Incident and Leftover Salmon. Drew Emmitt and Billy Nershi feature their true passion along side of some fantastic pickers!

Emmitt Nershi Band Live at Center For The Arts on January 26, 2012.



Set I: Center For The Arts Announcement, Intro/ Johnny Cash, Wait Until Tomorrow, Think Of What You've Done, Big Mon, Midnight Run, Good Times Around The Bend, Gold Hill Line, These Days, Thorn Pipe, Valley Of The Full Moon, Texas, ?

Set II: Don't It Make You Wanna Dance, Tangled Up In Blue, Road Of Destruction, Red Lady Mountain? (New Song), One After 909, This House, Cloud City?, Black Clouds, Lonesome Pines, Flight Of The Durbin, New Country Blues, Restless Wind

www.emmittnershiband.com



The Infamous Stringdusters:

There is no bluegrass/string band on the circuit that is growing as rapidly as The Stringdusters. Their takeover came quickly and without warning! See what all of the fuss is about and hop aboard the Stringdusters' train!

Infamous Stringdusters Live at Visulite Theatre on March 22, 2012.



Set I: Intro, The Place I Call Home, Get it While You Can, Black Rock, Tears of the Earth, All That I Can Take, Walking On The Moon, In God's Country, Steam Powered Aeroplane, Three Days in July, Instrumental, Rain

Set II: Don't Mean Nothin', Night On A River, The Hitchhiker, How Far I'd Fall For You, I Am A Stranger, Y2K, He’s Gone, Instrumental, Can’t Put Out The Fire, The Weight*, Ashokan Farewell, ????, Midnight Moonlight, More Time For You And Me

Encore: Free(un-amplified in the audience)

www.thestringdusters.com



Head For The Hills:

Another one of Colorado's up and coming offerings, Head For The Hills, is kicking grass and taking names. Combining youthful newgrass with a traditional approach this band is sure to get you dancing! Utilizing powerful originals and unique covers, H4H has something for listeners of all levels.

Head For The Hills Live at Bluebird Theater on April 20, 2012.

Setlist: Unknown

headforthehillsmusic.com

For information on Wakarusa, the complete line-up, activities, tickets, etc. visit www.wakarusa.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

MusicMarauders Live! Episode Seven

Say Cheese: 4.20.2000


Lincoln Theater, U. of Hartford
Hartford, CT

Words By Nicholas Stock


In addition to being national "smoke a fatty day," 4-20 is also drummer Michael Travis’ birthday. The combination of both has made for some stellar String Cheese Incident shows throughout the years. Perhaps the best of which came in the Lincoln Center at The University of Hartford in 2000. The show began with a fashion show where each member of the band was introduced one by one and modeled their attire. The show began with a shredtastic version of "100 Year Flood" into "Dudley’s Kitchen."

String Cheese Incident Live at Lincoln Theater, U. of Hartford on April 20, 2000.

SET I: 100 Year Flood> Dudley’s Kitchen, Hey Pocky Way, White Freightliner*#, Blue Bossa*> Jam*> Smile*

SET II: Happy Birthday Travis*> Missing Me*> Jam*> Lonesome Fiddle Blues*^, Black and White, Cottonmouth, Come As You Are> Drums> Whiskey Before Breakfast*

ENCORE: Boogie On Reggae Woman*

*with Darol Anger on fiddle
#Acoustic
^with Land’s End Tease

First off this recording is crisp and clean. It’s gems like this that make all the time I put into digging through the Archive worth it. The show features what Kang calls “Their Ultra-Secret Weapon,” also known as Darol Anger on fiddle. It’s a snapshot of a band almost at their peak, playing classic tunes with a solid energy. In particular the "Missing Me" into "Jam" into "Lonesome Fiddle Blues" is simply incredible. Everything about this show is impeccable and the combination of the special date with the excellent playing makes for a great look back at some classic Cheese.

www.stringcheeseincident.com

Sunday, April 22, 2012

FoCoMX: A Snapshot 4.13.12 & 4.14.12


Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Summer Camp Counselor Nicholas Stock


FoCoMx or the Fort Collins Music Experiment is a festival, which began just four short years ago. It’s a celebration of all of the music that bubbles out of Northern Colorado. It ends up being a massive melting pot of bands representing every possible genre under the sun. With over three hundred groups in thirty venues over the course of two nights it is the choose-your-own-adventure of music festivals. The price tag of $15 pre sale and shuttles whipping across town to get patrons from show to show it is also an incredibly affordable and doable event. The point of the fest is to expose local bands to new fans and give almost any group the opportunity to play live. The Fort Collins Music Association teamed up with Bohemian Foundation as well a slew of sponsors to make it all possible. My main criticism of FoCoMx is that it lacks a main stage and main act to really draw people in. There are plenty of big groups from Denver and Northern Colorado such as Pretty Lights, Northern Way, Big Head Todd and The Monsters or The Fray who all could have been the big draw to put this festival on the map. Even the Denver Post can be quoted as saying this about the Fort Collins music scene, “Thanks to a solid number of small venues, a ready audience of college students and an evolving sense of confidence, local bands are making a mark far and wide.” And while this is true, the festival needs that headliner draw in people outside of the community to really make an impact. That being said it was still a great celebration of Northern Colorado musicians.

I was personally battling a cold so what I have for you is a small snapshot of the event. Catching just a couple acts on the bloated schedule was all I accomplished. I saw Dead Floyd performing their Dark Side of the Moon set and The Holler at Hodi’s. There were mobs of music fans adorned with green wristbands roving around from venue to venue. While most of the stages were within the confines of Old Town, some of the rooms were as far out as the Bar Double S in Laporte.

On Friday night I headed down to see Dead Floyd at The Aggie. This was a show that was a headliner for the fest and had been buzzed about for several weeks leading up to the night of the event. Dead Floyd was performing the Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety synched up The Wizard of Oz. Dead Floyd brought in Walter Hannah, the keyboardist from The Grippe as well as a saxophonist and two backup singers. They upped their normal stage setup with a giant screen for projecting Oz and a slew of new lights. It felt like a massive production that could go on the road and be successful. The musicianship was at a whole other level than when I've seen Dead Floyd previously. They obviously felt the need to step it up for this show in a big way. The set began with a screen lowered from the top of the stage and as the MGM lion roared the music began. Like the album the music built, as did the crowd and opened with “Speak To Me.”

SET I: Speak To Me> Breathe> On The Run> Time> Great Gig In The Sky> Money> Us And Them> Any Colour You Like> Brain Damage> Eclipse, Truckin’> Drums> The Other One> Turn On Your Lovelight, Brokedown Palace, Samson and Delilah, St. Stephen

ENCORE: Outside The Wall, Touch of Grey, Run Like Hell, We Bid You Goodnight

This show being part of the festival, you just needed a wristband to get in, but it wasn’t long before the room was completely packed. The rest of the night it was one in one out. Highlights from the DSOTM section included an amazing “Money” and a powerful “Us and Them.” The rest of the set was all Grateful Dead, which only made sense. “Other One” and “Brokedown Palace” were both awesome to see proving that Dead Floyd is not a greatest hits group. They dig deep into the repertoires of both bands to create an insane fusion of two my favorite acts of all time. The encore went back to their old mix and ended the night strong. Playing until almost two in the morning Dead Floyd was a fun and energetic way to close down night one of FoCoMx.

On night two of the festival I headed down to Hodi’s to catch local Americana stalwart The Holler!. Now there were a ton of great shows throughout the day on Saturday at FoCoMx, including some special events at breweries and a workshop with Speech from Arrested Development. I was still battling a serious cold so I opted to take it easy with The Holler!. They are an incredibly talented group, focusing on bluegrass with a rock twang. The most striking aspect of their sound is the intricate songwriting in their tunes. They opened with Tom Petty’s “You’re So Bad,” in honor of their arrival in Denver this week.

SET I: You’re So Bad, Wildwood, Beyond, Reply, Come On, Gratitude, Path, Climb, Mind Is Moving, Memory

With new drummer Garret Evans on the kit the group sounded fresh and pretty tight given the latest direction. Michael Kirkpatrick who is the primary songwriter and lead singer of The Holler! makes quite the impression with his velvety vocals and his quick hands on the mandolin. It was nice because both Brian Adams and Brad Poto took turns at the microphone showing that this band was not a one trick pony. They are as talented as they are diverse and have truly created a niche for themselves in Northern Colorado. They have a new album entitled Gratitude, which they played the title track from at the show. Check out these guys if you want to just relax and feel the classic groove. So while my experience at FoCoMx is best described as brief, it was a fun experience. Next year I may actually make it to more than two shows; let’s just hope I’m not ill.

Nicholas' Photo Gallery

www.focomx.org

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today in Grateful Dead History: 4.21.1969


The Ark
Boston, MA

Words By J-man


Forty three years ago today, The Grateful Dead graced The Ark in Boston, MA with their presence. This classic piece of history provides a clear glimpse into the early years of the band through a fantastic show, both in energy and recording quality. The set includes prominent Dead staples in their earliest forms, including "Morning Dew," "Cryptical Envelopement," "The Other One," "Dark Star," "St. Stephen," and "The Eleven." The progression of these compositions have come a long way and in these early years, the stripped down versions give insight into the humble origins.

Start your Saturday right with Grateful Dead on today's date in 1969!

Grateful Dead Live at The Ark on April 21, 1969.



Setlist: Hard To Handle, Morning Dew, Cryptical Envelopement-> Drums-> The Other One-> Cryptical Envelopement-> Sitting On Top Of The World, Alligator-> Drums-> Jam*-> Alligator-> Doin' That Rag Foxy Lady Jam, Dark Star-> Saint Stephen-> The Eleven-> Turn On Your Love Light,

E: Viola Lee Blues

www.dead.net

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Conspirator 4.15.12


Appalachian Brewing Company
Harrisburg, PA

Words & Photos by Jon Irvin


Super-groups and side projects are the reason why I love the 'jam scene'. Usually this is where you find your favorite musicians truly having fun and exploring their mastery. Conspirator is one of latest bands that sports a star studded lineup consisting of founding members Marc Brownstein (bass) and Aron Magner (keyboard) both of the Disco Biscuits joined by Chris Michetti (guitar) from RAQ and their latest drummer KJ Sawaka of Pendulum. The newest edition of Conspirator brought the jams to Appalachian Brewing Company this past Sunday and I couldn't miss the chance to enjoy both great beers and bass bombs from Brownie.

The set opened with a newer Disco Biscuit song "Uber Glue" that was explored to the nth degree and set the tone for a night of dubstep-house jamming. From here on out the audience was caught in a web like funnel that had their mind shifted every which way as the band took them on a musical ride. The run of songs consisted of newer Conspirator material including "Hands Up" a song that blends the electronic keys from Magner with a Dr. Dre-esque bass line exploited by Brownie that had kept heads bouncing, as well as Disco Biscuits favorites including "Tamarin Alley" that gave the feel of familiarity to Bisco fans.

As all four took turns displaying their talents, you could see in the interaction between them that they were having a blast. The show ended with a vocal-less version of "Neck Romancer" driven by Magner into a remix of Porter Robinson's "Say My Name" that left the crowd wobbling to the exits even after the music had stopped. They say time goes by when your having fun, which definitely held true to for this action packed, yet seemingly short set. Conspirator plays with such high intensity its near impossible to have a down time during their show. I'm looking forward to checking out their progression this summer and hopefully hearing more of the newer material played live. Check them out as they continue their east coast tour as well as stops this summer at the All Good Music Festival and Gathering of the Vibes!

Setlist: Uber Glue, Hoodwinker > Countach, Hands Up, Loco Street Devil > Tamarin Alley, Retrograde > Last Man Standing, Flash Mob, Gone Gone Gone, Neck Romancer > Say My Name

www.conspiratorband.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Keller Williams & The Travlin’ McCourys 4.12.12


The Aggie
Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Summer Camp Counselor Nicholas Stock


It’s no secret that many dig what Keller Williams does. From his early loop filled days playing small clubs to his latter band based projects performing in front of massive festival crowds one thing remains true, Keller is fun. His most recent endeavor is as a front man for the Travelin’ McCourys. His acoustic chops fit in nicely with the bluegrass powerhouse. Obviously he is not trying to replace Del McCoury, no one could do that, but is simply looking to play with a full string lineup. What better string band could he possibly find other than the Travelin’ McCourys? There was no opening group, so Keller and the McCourys took the stage just before 10 PM. They started the night with an entertaining “Mullet Cut."

Keller Williams Live at Aggie Theater on April 12, 2012.



SET I: Mullet Cut, Gallivanting, The Graveyard Shift, The Hobo Song, Pepper, Road is Rocky, My Mine Never Closes, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, American Car, Corn Liquor, All In My Mind, Blame It On The Lonesome Wind, Ain’t About The Money, Sweet Mountain Soul

SET II: My Something Else, Freeker By The Speaker, Heads Will Turn, Friend Of The Devil, Loser, Evangelina, Kidney In A Cooler> Deep Elum Blues> Kidney In A Cooler, Forty Years To Life, Port-o-Potty, I’m A Man, Franklin’s Tower

ENCORE: My Grass Is Blue

The first set was a mix of the traditional and the innovative. Some great versions of classics like The Old And In The Way’s “Hobo Song” and Earl Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” However they got a little crazy on some covers like the Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper” and Mike Doughty’s “American Car.” It was certainly an interesting mix with Keller taking the vocal duties much of the time. They passed around solos nicely proving that the McCourys have truly learned from the best. Ronnie McCoury, was simply astonishing but the MVP may have been Jason Carter on fiddle. His playing cut through the whole crowd, giving a real flair and authenticity to the overall sound.



The second set seemed more freeform and centered around classic Keller. "Freeker" got everyone excited and ignited an all out dance party at the Aggie. I will say that while the show did not appear to be sold out there was definitely a good crowd in the room. We got a much-anticipated Dead interlude with “Friend Of The Devil” and “Loser.” However the real highlight of the show may have been the "Kidney In A Cooler" into "Deep Elum Blues" into "Kidney In A Cooler."

“When you go down to the Aggie just to rage, have your two thousand ready when Johnny Law walks back stage.” – Keller

Keller may have been referencing signage that clearly prohibits smoking backstage. This is interesting because in Denver, it can be considered a relative free-for-all when it comes to puffing; this is not the case in Fort Collins. In fact it is common for police to go into to green rooms and check on bands to make sure they are not breaking the law. I understand this is a college town but I’m not sure why 60 miles of highway causes such a big difference. Obviously Keller noticed it and felt the need to sing about it. "Port-o-Potty" got everyone dancing again and the set closing "Franklin’s Tower" was a nice touch. They encored with a quick "My Grass is Blue." The show was great, and it’s nice to see Keller really stretching out with his musical wings. He could easily have stuck with his classic shtick, but he wants to grow and expand his capability on stage. It is apparent that he is always evolving and looking for new ways to entertain. Check out Keller and The Travelin’ McCourys if they happen to make it to your town.

Nicholas' Photo Gallery

www.kellerwilliams.net

www.thetravelinmccourys.com

Henhouse Prowlers: Europe (Part Three)


Words By Ben Wright

It's Tuesday afternoon here in Belgium and we're coming off one of the longest weekends we've had in a long time. The short drives here make it possible to play two shows in a day, so that's precisely what we did on both Saturday and Sunday. By Sunday night's show we were exhausted and I forgot to take pictures. Regardless, we worked it hard this weekend and still managed to have a great time.

Friday, April 13th
N9 in Eeklo, Belgium


This show was a highlight of last years tour and it was even better this year. N9 is akin to any of the nicer venues we might play in the states, and it drips with personality. The staff remembered us by name and were visibly happy that we were back. The sound here is phenomenal, with top notch gear and Patrick on sound clearly knows what he's doing. The venue is funded by the Belgian government and it's been made clear to me by several people that it's an honor to be asked to play there.

The stained glass window in the front is really something else. (Pictured above)

Dinner before the show was honestly incredible. Parsnip soup followed by Chicken Provencal, both of which were made by a French schooled chef. There was a real moment of calm and community at the dinner table that night. It's hard to express how valuable that can be when you're far from home. Ludo (our driver) told us a story about a visit he made to Boston several years ago where two teenagers talked him into buying them beer (which nearly landed him in jail). We laughed loudly with him at his good natured ignorance to conservative American values. The exquisite meal finished with a dessert of pears and local berries in a syrup that really should be illegal.

The show was a full house and the audience was incredibly warm and receptive. Dan and I met some young Belgian music lovers during the set break that we connected with over talks of favorite bands (Willie Nelson, Leonard Cohen, etc) and American vs. Belgian politics. Making friends here is easy and the people that come to our shows are genuinely good folk.

We ended the show with two encores, the second of which was acoustic. Again, it's humbling to be appreciated as much as we have been on this trip. People here love honest music.

On a side note: Ludo is a really sweet and cool guy. Check him out loading our gear as we talked to the audience and signed CD's after show. Go Ludo!



Saturday, April 14th
Bottendall Holland: Billy In Bottendaal Festival,
or "Lazy American Car Meeting"


I'm not sure if this was about "Lazy Americans" or a "Lazy Car Meeting", but either way it was a really cool festival. The EU obsession with 50's Americana was particularly prevalent here. There were several classic cars, including a 50's Cadillac and a late 70's Ford pickup that you'd label a junker in the states. Here though, they stuck out like somewhat abstract modern art. We arrived quite early and Jon and Grant stopped in a coffee shop for some local flavors. Dan and I took a walk and found the mother of all bike racks.

The Festival itself was something of a family affair and probably had about 200 people in attendance. Right from the start there was a feeling that our sound was going to be somewhat compromised. There was chaos around the stage as we set up (including a child and the festival manager's dog running around), but it all fell into place by the time we started. I was pleasantly surprised that the show went off without a hitch and the audience really bounced with our performance. A man came up and asked in very thick French accent if we'd play "Little Cabin Home on the Hill". Finer words are seldom spoken to a bluegrass band out of their element (or country, I suppose).


We were pressed for time to get to our next show so we had to run out of there quickly. Jon sold CD's while the rest of us packed up. It's great to have so many shows over here, but it always leaves us wishing we had more time to hang out with the locals.

Saturday night, April 14th
"Hoppin' Round Vorselaar"


This show really kicked ass. This type of event appears to be common in this part of Belgium (Rockin' around Turnhout being the weekend before). There were 6 bars/venues in the center of Vorselaar that were set up for live music. Each one had a band assigned to the location and each band played three staggered sets of 45 minutes. We had an hour between each set so we could "Hop Around" to the other venues and check the other bands out. We heard Reggae, Rock, Folk and more. Our buddy Robin was one of the organizers and he told us there were about 2000 people at the entire event. Each show we played was in front of a completely different audience.

Amidst the copious drinking and partying I met a man named Ronnie. He mentioned Flatt and Scruggs to me and asked for Foggy Mtn. Breakdown during the first set. We played it and he beamed in the front row at every note. He quickly bought a CD and T-shirt during the first break then waited around to see us again rather than check out other bands. I asked Ronnie to join me for a beer outside and we ended up having a great conversation about bluegrass and his love for America. When you grow up in a country with the various problems ours has, it's easy to forget what makes our home good. Music aside, Ronnie reminded me that America is full of many beautiful places and people, despite it's struggles.

He said "I wish have been a cowboy."

Me too, Ronnie.

I finished the night off with a Duvel, of course, and the rest of the guys kept hoppin' around while I went back to the house to get some much needed rest. I'll let Dan take it from here.

Dan's interlude:

After Ben left us, there was a void in our hearts, as we knew we were not whole. But, we quickly filled that void with fresh frittes from a catering truck across the street from our venue.

We scuttled over to a bar up the block to catch the end of The Delegators' set (a dynamic Reggae band from England). We lingered around after the show and traded compliments with the band members who had snuck over to our show during their set-break as we did theirs. One member shared stories of the bluegrass bands he is familiar with in London, and the lead singer shared multiple rum & cokes with Starr and I (she stuck the bottle of rum in my coat jacket at the end of the night as a parting gift).

After a blurry end of the night at the festival after-party bar (where I met the only girl in Belgium that doesn't drink) we took a cab home and cut our losses. After I heard Starr was a state wrestler, I couldn't help but test his abilities out when we got home, until Stijn (our housemate, driver and Belgian buddy) told us to stop or take it outside. I'll let Ben take it from here so as to assure a clear description of the next day's affairs.


Sunday, April 15th

Show 1: Crossroads Cafe in Antwerp


Most everyone was slightly ragged from the night before as we headed out at noon for Antwerp. We arrived at the club early so we took a slight detour to the red light district for a little sight seeing. Our curiosity slightly bested the strangeness of the whole scene, but we didn't really spend much time there. It's funny how it's the part of Europe you hear about as a young man, but when you're face to face with it... you don't want to hang around.

Crossroads Cafe is a Blues/Americana themed bar with posters and all sorts of ephemera from our music scene in the states. There was concern before the show started that there might not be a great turnout, but there most definitely was. Sadly, this was another situation where we were extremely pressed for time to make our next show. I want to give a shout out to Stijn our road manager for making the impossible possible. While we set up at Crossroads, he drove 30K to the next venue and set up the PA, then stopped on the way back to get us food and was waiting outside the club with the Opel's back door open waiting for our gear so we could haul ass to our next show. Props, Stijn.

Our severe time crunch didn't allow for an encore, but the audience graciously understood even though they wanted one badly. We signed CD's in a flurry as we headed out the door. If you're ever in Antwerp, BE and want a small slice of home, make a stop at Crossroads Cafe. They even have Jack Daniels.

Here's some great pictures from our buddy Michel Verlinden from the show. I saw him taking a bunch of video too. Hopefully he'll post that on youtube at some point.

Photos From Crossroads

Sunday night, April 15th
Ace Cafe
Rumst Belgium


This was one of those gigs that you need to dig deep for that 4th wind to pull it off. We rolled out of the van and ran into the club to a room full of people. Stijn's masterful setup (done earlier in the day) was perfect. The stage was set up with each XLR cable laid in the precise place for our gear. He'd taken 5 beer coasters and written each instrument on them and taped them to their corresponding cables. It eliminated any thinking in a situation where we really didn't have the mental energy to be doing so. About seven minutes after arriving we were playing our first song and we ripped through a 90 minute set. Warmed up from our previous performance and full bore on coffee and good beer, we really felt like we put on a killer show. A bunch of people followed us over from the show at Crossroads and we managed to put on a completely different show knowing they were there. Sadly, the exhaustion of the day made me forget to get any photo's. I'm hoping some will pop up on Facebook.

As a side note of this show, we met a really cool kid from Malta, along with some of his Belgian buddies. He'd never heard bluegrass before and was completely shocked at it. This is why we travel, folks. Without question.

All in all, we busted our humps on five shows over the weekend. They were all wonderful experiences and unbelievably warm receptions. One more week to go before we come home. Eight more shows in seven days...

www.henhouseprowlers.com