Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Congress 3.15.13 & 3.16.13

Road 34 Bike Shop and Bar
Fort Collins, Colorado

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock

With spring closing in the winter tour season in Denver is coming to a close. We are hit incredibly hard with touring bands and live music form January through March, and it’s becoming a bit of a problem. No, in all seriousness it is a blessing and curse, as inevitably there will be a combination of incredible experiences and a handful of missed shows. The late spring seems to be a time for local acts to fill the void with Mountain Runs and weekends along The Front Range. Many bands take this opportunity to release new music and create a buzz for their summer touring schedule. One such band, The Congress, did both with stops in at Fort Collins’ Road 34 Bike Shop and Bar and a headlining gig at The Bluebird with Tori Pater Band all in support of their new EP The Loft Tapes.

On Friday night, Amy and I headed down around 9:30 PM. With a posted start time of 9:00 PM we figured we would catch the end of the opener and have a somewhat early night. However due to the CSU Rams fighting the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels for the top spot in the Mountain West Conference Championship they postponed the opener until after 10:30 PM. This has become a common trend lately and it needs to stop. Road 34 obviously knew the game was happening on Friday, so put a note on the website or simply make the show a late start. Many of the people who were there left prior to the start of the music, because it was just getting late. On top of that The Band Wagon ended up playing longer than The Congress, but I digress.

The Band Wagon is quite simply the most bizarre and interesting cover band I’ve had the chance to see live. Led by singer Beth “Rock Star” Peebles, who teetered between legitimate crooner and karaoke diva, was a bucket full of energy and pep. Opening with Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know,” it was clear from the beginning that this was about to be an exercise in silliness. I found myself surprised at times as the musicianship of both guitarist, Jonnie Geller and bassist, CW Trumbeaux. Their talents really began to shine through on versions of The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy,” and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals’ “Medicine.” Both were well executed while songs like “Love Shack” just seemed over the top. The most interesting moment came in the form of a Nikki Minaj / Bluegrass mash-up that just went way over my head. They closed their set with a solid take on “Me And Bobby McGee.” The Band Wagon recorded the show for a live release as well.

The Congress finally took the stage and blasted through a powerful set that was just short of the two-hour mark. They laid down the mood early by opening with a track off of The Loft Tapes; Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” The Congress is on fire right now, and even given the late start, small stage, and lack of Chris Speasmaker on keys, they sounded spectacular. The Congress as a power trio is certainly something to behold. They are crisp and clean in their delivery and each player is working overtime to fill the gaps. Versions of The Beatles’ “Sheep Dog” and their original “Keep Virginia” kicked the set up a notch and made the crowd tune in. My head snapped around when they ripped into Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So,” that oozed with The Congress’s solid rock sensibility. Scott Lane continues to impress me each time I see him perform live. Quite simply he is a shredder, and his ability to provide lick heavy sustenance to the crowd is something to be seen. Several more tracks from the new EP made it into the rotation as well including “Into The Mystic” and a stellar “Killing Me Softly.” All in all it was a great lead up to their gig at The Bluebird the following night.

Nicholas' Friday Photos

The Bluebird Theater
Denver, CO

The Congress came out in full effect for their latest headlining show at The Bluebird. MusicMarauders and friends were there to do a five-camera shoot along with help from The 4cs Recording Group who did a 24-Track tape of the show. Stay tuned for the final product, but in the meantime let me give a rundown of the concert. We arrived early and set up our gear as The Congress sound checked. Denver has been kind to The Congress and they continue to build momentum in our fair city. The night began with a quick interview with lead singer and bassist Jonathan Meadows, who gave me insight into the recording process for their new EP The Loft Tapes.

Up first was the Tori Pater Band who is now on my radar. A band that has been on my radar for quite some time is Polytoxic, which is where Tori Pater got his start. Polytoxic continues to play their Last Waltz tribute, which has become a yearly tradition on the Front Range. Now it seems that Tori Pater is striking out on his own with Leftover Salmon alumni Bill McKay. In fact that blues infused grittiness that McKay inserted into LoS is exactly the type of music that oozes from the stage at a Tori Pater show. Tori himself is like a blend of Johnny Cash, Taj Mahal, and Vince Herman, with no reservations about dropping an f-bomb during his songs. I was informed from a dear friend that Tori is the real deal and that became obvious as he played on. His gruff delivery could have been off-putting if he wasn’t such a lovable character on stage. He rallied the audience for The Congress, and made the whole evening feel much more like a family affair. It was good to see McKay out playing as well and it was obvious that he hasn’t lost any of his chops. Robbie Peoples joined for a song before Pater promised the crowd that we would be seeing him again. If you like the blues and you want to get rowdy go see the Tori Pater Band and drink some whiskey in the process.

Speaking of whiskey, as The Congress took the stage, they informed us that they would be playing a new song, which was a loving tribute whiskey, women, and a lack of time. They quickly went into a massive version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” that seemed to stretch beyond the borders of not only the recording but the version they had played just the night before. They tossed in a couple originals with “Fallen” and “Loretta” off of their first self-titled EP. Chris Speasmaker of the Fox Street Allstars was phenomenal and added some serious texture to the overall Congress sound. After a couple more tracks from The Loft Tapes including a transcendental version of Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” they invited another Fox Street Allstar Robbie Peoples to the stage to perform songs off of his new album which he recorded with members of The Congress. Peoples hung out for a bit and he really showcased his fiery brand of Southern blues and his ability on both the harmonica as well as the guitar. He was a fun addition to the night for both bands. There was some slight technical difficulty with the amp, but it was mere moments before the show was back in full swing. Robbie exited stage left and The Congress continued on with some originals including an awesome “Fool For You” as well as a rocking “Reasons.” They gave us more off the new EP with “You’ve Got A Friend as well as set closing “Killing Me Softly.” They ended the show with a massive jam on The Eagles’ “Life In The Fast Lane” that included both Bill McKay and Tori Pater. The Congress closed with their epic “Jonah Gideon.” It was solid show with lots of musical interplay and some serious twists and turns. Stay tuned for the video as I dive into the edit.

Nicholas' Saturday Photos

Thursday, March 28, 2013

LOHI Music Festival Presents: Joey Porter's Shady Business & Eddie Roberts 3.23.13

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel

After a Friday night of superb funk, I returned to Cervantes to check out a very special show. Eddie Roberts (New Mastersounds) opened the show with his band, the West Coast Sounds. Having seen them headline the Other Side on Friday, I wondered how the energy would change moving to the larger room and crowd, but with a shorter set. The set got a slower start than Friday, but seemed to pick up velocity as it went on. The crowd filled in the floor by the end of the set, and everyone appeared to be on board. A friend pointed out that it was like the kind of music Diana Ross' backing band would play, just way faster. As I contemplated the statement, I heard what he meant. The clean tones that define Eddie's style were accompanied by succinct horn lines, soulful organ, and funk-soul flavor. What did not sound like an R&B backing band was Roberts' solo work, which was predictably phenomenal. The West Coast Sounds were great both nights and I'd recommend checking them out if they come your way.

Last year I came out to see Joey Porter's Shady Business and was very impressed with the lineup of musicians. I'd anticipated this year's show from the day I saw it was announced. With a lineup that included members of 3 of my favorite live bands, the Motet, Lettuce, and the New Mastersounds I was beyond pumped. As the band took the stage, it was bookended by keyboard wizards Joey Porter (Motet) and Nigel Hall (Lettuce/ Warren Haynes Band). Between them was an all star lineup of funk musicians including Eric Krasno (Lettuce/ Soulive), Garrett Sayers (Motet/ Kyle Hollingsworth Band), Dave Watts (Motet), Kim Dawson (Motet), the Shady Horns (Lettuce), Eddie Roberts (New Mastersounds), Dominic Lali (Big Gigantic), LaDamion Massey, and many more. With so much talent on the stage, it would have been easy for the sound to get too busy, but the players were extremely respectful of each other's space and allowed the solos to float around the band easily. The funk they dropped was dirty, deep, chunky, and gritty. They traversed traditional funk and disco grooves with soul and some synthy 80's party music.

Friday night, Eddie Roberts had Eric Krasno sit in with the West Coast Sounds, and the two of them had a fantastic dual. Shady Business had far less of that interplay between the two. Because of the nature of a band that at times had up to 15 musicians on stage, there wasn't a whole lot of time for them to link up and tear it up. While I felt it would have been a lot of fun to see them trade solos, it wouldn't have served the music as well... And that was the most impressive thing of all. Every single person played within their role, provided crisp accompaniment and scorched their solos when the time came. The camaraderie and respect among the musicians on stage was great to watch, like a bunch of old friends having a reunion. Fun was contagious, and it leaked out of their instruments, through the speakers, and into our dancing souls. The highlight of the evening for me was their cover of Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothing." The extended jam on this tune was thick, sticky, and deep. I've always loved that grindy low end of the clavinova, and Stevie Wonder tunes usually deliver. As I danced in a bouncing crowd of smiles, I was thankful that Joey Porter had put together such an incredible group of musicians for our entertainment, I couldn't wait to do it again next year!

Brad's Photo Gallery

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Preview: Three Nights of Lotus in Boulder

Boulder Theater
Boulder, CO

Join us for three nights of Lotus at The Boulder Theater Thursday April 4th, Friday April 5th & Saturday April 6th!

Lotus has crafted a unique musical style outside of simple genre limitations. On a given weekend the band could be the only group with guitars at an all electronic music festival and then the next night crash a traditional rock festival with their dance heavy beats, synths and samples. Equal parts instrumental post-rock and electronic dance, the band's distinguishing feature is the ability to maintain a decidedly unique musical voice and remain current while bucking passing trends.

No matter what the venue, the energetic joy and catharsis of a Lotus show is infectious. The band slowly built a devoted fan base through steady touring and the crowds have grown at an increasing pace. This grassroots growth has made the band in high demand for festivals including Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Ultra, and Rothbury and earned the band sold out shows at the country's premier theatres and clubs.

Check Out J-man's Review of Lotus' New Album, Build!

Purchase THURSDAY Tickets Here:

Purchase FRIDAY Tickets Here:

Purchase SATURDAY Tickets Here:

LOHI Music Festival Presents: Toubab, Eddie Roberts & Springdale 3.22.13

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words By Brad Yeakel
Photos By Kevin Hahn & Justin Garnder

Last night, I braved the elements to get funky. It was my first time seeing Springdale Quartet since the foursome recorded their upcoming album with Soulive's Alan Evans. Evans seemed to have an impact on their playing as everything seemed to have a slightly funkier flare. The songs still had their original sound, but the nuances had a little more swing to them. With solid backing, Ben Waligoske's guitar soared through song after song of adventurous fusion. SQ is rapidly becoming one of my favorite bands in the area.

While it was a chore dragging myself away from the Quartet, I ventured to the ballroom to check out a band I'd heard of, but never heard. Toubab Krewe was busy laying down some tribal grooves with a heavily percussive foundation. The sound they built around these rhythms were relaxing, enjoyable, and unique. I wasn't sure how to describe their sound. It has some African influence, though my abilities to distinguish a specific region wasn't keen enough. It had some reggae zest, but mere traces. What I found most interesting was their kora player, Justin Perkins. A kora's a large instrument with a gourd at the base. It reminded me of a harp crossed with a sitar. The sound it made was worldly, soothing, and pleasing to the ear. I enjoyed watching the band build one of the most organic sounds I've heard in quite some time. Their tunes seemed to rise from the dirt, and represent some connection to earth. I enjoyed it thoroughly and noted that I needed to get ahold of some Krewe ASAP.

Returning to the Other Side, Springdale was wrapping up, and Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds was getting ready to go on with his side project... the West Coast Sounds. From the gate, Eddie launched like an Olympic sprinter bound for gold. His playing immediately grabbed me in a way that seemed to say, "this is what you came here for, now get dancing." The flurry of notes were clean, soft, staccato magnificence strategically placed within the hyper-funky rhythmic chord work. His compadres in the West Coast Sounds did a great job supporting the ambitious guitar work, and generally providing accompaniment. Organ player, Wil Blades provided the bass-lines while Jermal Watson played the kit. Watson played with such force he reminded me of a boxer just punching drums rather than hitting them. The resulting beats were punchy, strong, and immaculate. Trumpeter Mike Olmos and sax player Joe Cohen added horns that brought a new element to Eddie's sound. They were both skilled soloists and seemed to work well together as they weaved their lines together with a funky intricacy and chemistry that was well crafted. Eddie smiled often as he erupted with line after line of breakneck funk. His enjoyment of his craft added to my enjoyment. Multiple times I simply laughed in disbelief. It's not that he is the fastest player I've ever seen, but there is some aspect of his speed that seems blinding considering the style... Like a stenographer transcribing a Micro Machines commercial. In the past couple years, funk has emerged as one of my favorite styles of music, and Mr. Roberts playing is among the very best I've heard. That's why it was such a treat to see him invite another of my favorite funk guitarists to the stage, Soulive/ Lettuce's Eric Krasno. The two of them took turns spontaneously creating funk riffs with improvisational mastery. Roberts finished the night off with an instrumental cover of Gotye's "Somebody that I Used to Know," and I went home excited to see Roberts and company again the next night.

Kevin's Photo Gallery

Justin's Photo Galley

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Preview: MusicMarauders Presents This Must Be The Band, Zoogma & Moksha

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Join us on Friday March 29th at Cervantes in Denver, CO for MusicMarauders Presents: "Stop Making Sense" Performed By This Must Be The Band at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom!

-Doors: 7:30 pm
-Show: 9:00 pm (event ends at 2:00 am)
-$15 Advance / $20 Day Of Show

Purchase Tickets For This Must Be The Band Here:

Also, MusicMarauders Presents: Zoogma & Moksha feat. Peter Apfelbaum, Jennifer Hartswick & Skerik!

-Doors: 8:00 pm
-Show: 9:00 pm (event ends at 2:00 am)
-$10 Advance / $12 Day Of Show

Purchase Tickets For Zoogma & Moksha Here:

MusicMarauders Presents: Toubab Krewe 3.21.13

The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By Kevin Hahn

Toubab Krewe opened up their Rocky Mountain High Winter Tour at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO on Thursday. The tour will take the Asheville, NC band from Boulder to Telluride passing through almost all of Colorado's major markets! The evening began with See-I feat. members of Thievery Corporation and their cheap overdone brand of reggae that tapped into all of the tacky audience reaction ploys. "How are you doing Denver?" (while the show was actually in Boulder) "Clap your hands if you want to here music!" "Scream if you like reggae!" The weak instrumentation clashed with misplaced high pitched yells, that filled the room for an extended opening set. The young crowd seemed into the music, yelling and screaming uncontrollably as directed by the gentleman on stage commanding the crowd. A short time later See-I's set ended and the buzz took over for Toubab Krewe.

Toubab hit the stage to the excitement of the growing crowd, but this time with new member, Terrence Houston (Drums). Terrance's counterpart was Luke Quaranta (Percussion). Together, they created so many fantastic layers, rhythms and polyrhythms that became the glue for the adventurous front line that included David Pransky (Bass), who helped round out the fantastic rhythm section, Drew Heller (Guitar) and Justin Perkins (Kora, Kamelngoni, Guitar). The combination of Heller and Perkins reflected experience and direction that took listeners on an almost psychedelic and tribal journey that was driven by a clear rock sound. That night, Toubab sounded as tight and refined as many had ever heard them sound. Toubab is at a point in their development where the music has progressed to a point of tightening and increased structure. Soon folks will be saying things like "I am an old school Toubab fan" and "I dig Toubab's older sound." For many, this point is crucial in the band's expansion to a larger fan base and increased following. If the music were to remain the same without progressing, what would that say about the band and the music itself?

What the Boulder crowd was treated to on Thursday was fantastic. For those who were not familiar with Toubab, it seemed a pleasant surprise. For those who were, it was a step forward in the musical saga that is Toubab Krewe. The combination of African melodies and rhythms mixed with an almost popular rock appraoch to create such a unique and appealing sound that cannot be overlooked. Toubab is on the climb to greatness. Trust us when we say, this is a band not to be missed. Catch Toubab on the second half of their Colorado tour and be sure to catch them this June at LOHI Music Festival!

Kevin's Photo Gallery

Monday, March 25, 2013

Preview: MusicMarauders Presents March Fourth Marching Band

The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

MarchFourth Marching Band (M4 to its fans) is a kaleidoscope of musical and visual energy that inspires dancing in an atmosphere of celebration. Join us on Thursday March 28th for MusicMarauders Presents: March Fourth Marching Band at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO! Opener for the evening is Atomga.

-Doors: 08:30PM
-Show: 09:00 PM
-$12 ADV / $14 DOS + $2 for under 21 tickets

Purchase Tickets Here:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Two Nights of The Henhouse Prowlers 3.16 & 3.17

Quixote's True Blue
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By J-man

Over the past five years, no one bluegrass band has captivated me like The Henhouse Prowlers have. Two nights in Denver was exactly what I needed to settle my craving for a band that continues to progress rapidly. Through line-up changes, stylistic consistency and focus, the Prowlers have become one of the most sought out second tier bluegrass band in the country. The tightness of the band's current incarnation was evident almost immediately on night one with the founding fathers, Ben Wright (Banjo) and Jon Goldfine (Bass) calling the shots with clear instinctual accuracy. Newer additions to the band, Dan Andree (Fiddle) and Starr Moss (Guitar) add a near perfect dynamic to a band pressured with strong expectations. That night, Denver concert goers were introduced to Jordan Ramsey (Mandolin) out of Boulder, CO who was sitting in for the weekend.

With the first night being the Saturday leading into St. Patrick's Day and with the popularity of the Prowlers in Colorado, Quixote's was as packed as most had ever seen. The energy was through the roof and the reception was incredible. Night Two welcomed a much calmer vibe while at the same time still boasting a great turnout. That night, the Prowlers would open for local favorite Garrett Sayers Trio, making for an odd pairing of top notch music. From fantastic originals to mind-blowing covers of classic songs, The Henhouse Prowlers sounded the best they've sounded! Jordan fit in perfectly as Ben and Jon looked on, as if the shows were an audition. Through two nights of music, Colorado fans were treated to near perfect bluegrass by one of the scene's best!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Preview: MusicMarauders Presents Joey Porter's Shady Business

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Join us on Saturday March 23rd for MusicMarauders Presents: Joey Porter's Shady Business feat. Joey Porter (Motet/Juno What?!), Eric Krasno (Soulive/Lettuce), Nigel Hall, Eddie Roberts (New Mastersounds), Shady Horns (Lettuce), Dave Watts & Garrett Sayers ( The Motet), Steve Watkins w/ Eddie Roberts' West Coast Sounds!

-Doors: 8:00 pm
-Show: 9:00 pm (event ends at 2:00 am)
-$15 Advance / $20 Day Of Show

Purchase Tickets Here:

Preview: MusicMarauders Presents Toubab Krewe, See-I, Eddie Roberts West Coast Sounds & Springdale

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Join us Friday March 22nd for LOHI Music Festival & MusicMarauders Present: Toubab Krewe & See-I at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom!

Purchase Tickets For Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Here:

Also, that same night be sure to catch LOHI Music Festival & MusicMarauders Presents: Eddie Roberts West Coast Sounds & Springdale Quartet at Cervantes Other Side!

Purchase Tickets For Cervantes Other Side Here:

Duel Passes Can be Purchased at The Door For $25.00!

Preview: Moksha feat. Apfelbaum, Hartswick & Skerik in Colorado

Las Vegas' secret weapon, Moksha, heads to Colorado for a handful of dates with a very special horn section that includes Peter Apfelbaum (Trey Anastasio Band, Hieroglyphics Ensemble), Jen Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band) & Skerik (Garage-a-Trois, Roger Waters, Les Claypool)!

3.29.13 Moksha at Cervantes Other Side in Denver, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

3.30.13 Moksha at Shine Restaurant in Boulder, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

3.31.13 Moksha at The Barkley Ballroom in Frisco, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

4.4.13 Moksha at The Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Preview: MusicMarauders Presents Toubab Krewe in Boulder, CO

The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

Join us Thursday at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado for MusicMarauders Presents: Toubab Krewe & See-I!

-Doors: 08:30 PM
-Show: 09:00 PM
-$15.00 ADV / $17.00 DOS + $2.00 for under 21 tickets
-All Ages Show!

Purchase Tickets Here:

The Everyone Orchestra 3.9.13

Asheville Music Hall
Asheville, NC

Words By Brent Mill
Photos By Scott Shrader (J. Scott Shrader Photography)

Everyone Orchestra Live at Asheville Music Hall on March 9, 2013.

The drive up from Greenville, SC was well warranted for what awaited the four of us at the Asheville Music Hall Saturday night. We made sure to arrive early to get some grub and make sure we got our hands on tickets for the show at the Music Hall owned, One Stop Deli & Bar. The combination of menu variety, brews and atmosphere for live music makes this place a must anytime I ‘m in Asheville now. The free pre-show put on by Asheville ensemble, Jahman Brahman, definitely put the energy in motion for tonight’s Everyone Orchestra rage. We shifted upstairs as the crowd began to pour in, grabbed a few beverages from the venue’s helpful and friendly staff and readied ourselves for the jams to come.

Led by arranger and musician Matt Butler, the Everyone Orchestra consists of an ever changing cast of high talented musicians, which over the years has consisted of members from The Grateful Dead, Phish, Widespread Panic, moe., and a mix of many others. Tonight’s rage included Kyle Hollingsworth (String Cheese Incident) on keys, John Morgan Kimock on drums, Reed Mathis of Tea Leaf Green on bass, Dan Lebowitz of ALO on guitar, Anthony Thogmartin and Mike Healy of Papadosio, and Greg Hollowell of Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band on saxophone. Matt Butler, adorned with a psychedelic top hat and overcoat, demonstrated a great balance between his use of a white board as a cue card to dig into the group’s improv musical talents, while at the same time involving the packed out crowd’s energy and assistance. Typically Everyone Orchestra tours the festival circuit but this tour was being referred to as "The Carolina Sessions" and Asheville happened to be the last stop on the tour. These shows are truly something special considering the amount of energy transferred between audience and band.

The first few songs started with somewhat spacey jams before Kimock and Healy’s drum solo into “People Say” saw a welcoming funk get down response from the crowd which ultimately never showed any retreat the rest of the show. It's always a treat to see a musician play outside of his typical style or genre. Mike from Papadosio was one person who caught my ear with his contagious funk grooves. Meanwhile, Hollingsworth was laying down his signature sound without hesitation. The night never let up and Butler never let the audience feel unnoticed. Constantly using crowd interactions with the music made it that much more special. Mathis held it down all night with his thick spastic bass lines that kept everyone bobbing their head through out the show. Two notable covers were the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” and The Flaming Lips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1." Hollingsworth and the others were musically connected and on point throughout the entire evening. I honestly can’t say I’ve seen such a well rounded group feed off each others' energy as well as these guys have in quite some time. If on the spot improv is what tickles your fancy then I suggest seeking out the next Everyone Orchestra show in your area and strap on for one musical roller coaster that never ceases to amaze.

Scott's Photo Gallery

Toubab Krewe: Rocky Mountain High Winter Tour 2013

Join Toubab Krewe on their trek across Colorado from Boulder to Telluride!

-3.21.13 Toubab Krewe at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

-3.22.13 Toubab Krewe at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

-3.23.13 Toubab Krewe at Ullr's Tavern in Winter Park, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

-3.24.13 Toubab Krewe at The Belly Up in Aspen, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

-3.27.13 Toubab Krewe at Three20South in Breckenridge, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

-3.28.13 Toubab Krewe at Agave in Avon, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

-3.29.13 Toubab Krewe at The Eldo in Crested Butte, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

-3.30.13 Toubab Krewe at Fly Me To The Moon Saloon in Telluride, CO: Purchase Tickets Here

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bowlive IV Night Six: Soulive feat. Bill Evans, John Medeski & George Porter Jr.

Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn, NY

Words By Karen Dugan (

To many New Yorkers, Thursday signifies the start of the weekend. Music venues bulk up their staff and bands slated to perform anticipate an audience that is ready for a party. Last night was the sixth night of Soulive’s Brooklyn Bowl residency, Bowlive IV. The foundation was set for a rocking night of music with the Brooklyn Bowl stocked with staff and Soulive ready to throw it down. With so many amazing musicians sitting in with Soulive over the past six nights, it has been challenging to ensure proper love is given to everyone. Especially during residencies, focus on special guests and their performances become the unexpected highlights of the articles and sometimes people forget to focus on the core members of the residency themselves. Credit must be given where credit is due. Guitarist Eric Krasno, drummer Alan Evans and Neal Evans, along with the Brooklyn Bowl, have created something extremely special and unique for the New York music community. Since it’s inception in 2010, Bowlive has turned into a musical Superbowl that pushes the skills of the best of the best. For eight to ten nights, these three rock stars provide a fusion of styles that showcase numerous artist and instruments with Soulive’s distinct sound providing the base. The shared respect between musicians to musicians, and musicians to fans amps the frenetic creative energy that flows from the first downbeat to the final bow. Eric, Alan, and Neal are all at the top of their game and are now standing out among the greats, using the glory of Bowlive to cement their place as a musical dynasty. A dynasty that began in 1999. It speaks volumes that the trio can support an eight to ten night residency that packs the house every night and attracts some of the biggest names in live music. Last night continued the tradition of amazing collaborations with keyboardist John Medeski and saxophonist Bill Evans.

The power trio had to make a few changes to the musical formula last night. Due to a benefit concert earlier in the day, last night was the first and only night of the run where the power trio did not have a rocking opening band to set pace. Without an opening band, Soulive was tasked with pumping up the eager crowd that was filled up with party animals, packing the dance floor to the brim. By doing so, they completely reinforced to the fans why any of us were there in the first place. Soulive original, "Aladdin," began the set, providing the first platform for Krasno to open up and slay his guitar. Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" followed, a song that everyone can geek out on, especially the musicians playing the tune. After six nights, the guys were thoroughly warmed up and just crushing solos left and right on The Beatles tune, “I Want You.” Enter The Shady Horns, consisting of trumpeter Eric Bloom, saxophonist James Casey, and baritone saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, for “Backwards Jack.” These three horn players provide a platform for the trio to open up and rage. Over the run, Eric Bloom has been experimenting with a guitar Wa Wa pedal during his trumpet solos, while James Casey has broken out the flute and provided percussion on many songs.

Continuing his guest appearance from the fifth night, London Souls guitarist Tash O'Neal joined the stage for the Beatles, “Get Back” and a slow “PJs.” Quality choices off their 2010 album, Rubber Soulive, made up the bulk of the first set before the audience was hit with a special unannounced guest. Alan spoke to the crowd, "I am sorry for those of you who can't come tomorrow night. You know, it's a real shame that you won't see George Porter, Jr. tomorrow. But it's ok! Because you can see him now!" This was special. Bassist George Porter, Jr. is an icon, legend and mentor, not only to the members of Soulive, but any true musician or music lover who loves funky, deep, in-the-pocket bass lines. A member of the legendary group, The Meters, Porter's unique sound can be heard on recordings for Warren Haynes, Patti Labelle, Jimmy Buffett, David Byrne, Johnny Adams, Harry Connick Jr., Earl King, and Tori Amos, to name a few. Soulive is so well-versed on Porter's catalog that the end of the set list simply read, "Whatever GPJ Wants!" They cranked out Meter’s covers "Check Your Mind" right into "Funky Bitch," without missing a beat.

Soulive continued to descend upon us with new musicians, adding keyboardist John Medeski (Medeski, Martin and Wood) and saxophonist Bill Evans to their Bowlive IV roster for the second set. A set that is hard to describe in words. Let’s just start with knowing the fact that Bill Evans was in Miles Davis’s band at the age of 22 and John Medeski was asked to perform on Jaco Pastorius’s 1981 tour while still a teenager. Along with Soulive and the Shady Horns, Medeski and Evans played a mind-blowing set. Medeski’s avant-garde jazz quality added an incredible layer of sound to the stage, either filling every empty space with a melodic note, or simply striking one key and locking eyes with Neal. The set was filled with songs from Spark, a collaborative album with Karl Denson, released in March 2012. “Spark!,” the title track, kicked it off with Bill Evans crushing a sick solo on his soprano sax. Trombonist Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band) was the next unannounced sit-in who lent her sound on “Povo.” “Nubian Lady” and “Liquid” followed, sounding exactly like the names suggest. The musicians were so tight, fluid, and everyone on stage was cranking out their notes in improvisational ways, yet sounded as if they had been rehearsing the same songs for years. Unannounced drummer ?uestlove, who holds a standing DJ set on Thursdays for the Brooklyn Bowl, snuck in for "Nautilus" and proceeded to slam our heads into the beat of the song. It was inspiring. Soulive encored with an extended, jamming “Tuesday Night Squad.”

Greg Garrison's "Improvised Roots" No. 4 3.15.13

Dazzle Restaurant and Lounge
Denver, CO

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

What better way to wrap up a long week than with an evening of music at Denver's premier jazz club, Dazzle? The intimate room was buzzing with energy as Greg Garrison (Bass), Darol Anger (Fiddle), Joel Harrison (Guitar), Art Lande (Piano) and Jim White (Drums) took the stage to begin their exploration. Each member of the assembled group began layering the music as it built, offering bits and pieces of musical influence to the mix. The result was a masterful set that included traditional compositions dating back to the Civil War and beyond. Greg nodded, signaling for solos around as each musician reflected an elevated level of skill, intuition, and direction. Darol's sliding/screaming notes rung out with with a fantastic crispness, as Joel's precise guitar work reflected extreme tonal control and accuracy. Art crept in ticking the keys and adding an old time jazz feel that became more progressive as the songs unfolded. The rhythm section was tight with Greg and Jim laying down the framework for extensive melody and lead work from the others.

At one point in the set Joel asked, "Do we have any Deadheads in the house?" to which he got a surprising large response, considering we were in a jazz club. Someone in the crowd yelled "it's Phil Lesh's Birthday!" to which Joel responded, "wow... Take care of that liver," before the group went into "Attics of My Life." I believe that was the first time that I have heard Dead music at Dazzle. It was an interesting moment and was well executed. The set wound down and with each passing arrangement the near sold out Denver crowd showed their massive appreciation! If you missed the show, you're in luck! Greg Garrison's "Improvised Roots" No. 4 will be playing two shows tonight at Dazzle! Get your tickets now before they sell out!

Purchase 7:00 PM Tickets Here

Purchase 9:00 PM Tickets Here

Carly & J-man's Photo Gallery

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bowlive IV Night Five: Soulive feat. Marco Benevento & David Hildalgo

Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn, NY

Words By Karen Dugan (

Soulive's Brooklyn Bowl residency, Bowlive IV, reached it's fifth night last night. In past years, this would signify the middle of the run and the end of the residency's first week. However, Soulive has chosen to pack more talent into eight days this year and continue to impress upon us just how talented they truly are. As if we didn't know already.

The equally impressive power trio and Bowlive alumi, The London Souls, opened with a fury that paralleled Bowlive IV’s previous night openers. Eric Krasno made a point to remind the audience that this is one of his “favorite bands!” That was a powerful statement from a powerful guitarist who sees and appreciates the talent in his peers and a clear invitation to Soulive fans to pay attention. The London Souls are a classic rock band consisting of shredding guitarist Tash O’Neal, drummer Chris St. Hilaire and bassist Stu Mahan. Tash’s sound is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix; the comparisons are just inevitable. However, as a group, they seamlessly flow from multiple styles while improvising styles all with undertones of pure Rock ‘n Roll! Their wickedly expansive sound, something every power trio hopes to accomplish, shone through vibrantly in their performance of originals “Old Country Road,” “Easier Said Than Done,” and the old-timey tune “Bobby James.” The audience rocked out to AC/DC’s “Long Way To The Top” and The Souls closed their set with a rousing cover of Frank Zappa’s “Apostrophe.” So much to say, so little time.

Set List: Lucille Cover, Under Control, All Tied Down, Old Country Road, Honey → Long Way To The Top (AC/DC), Bobby James, Some Day, Easier Said Than Done, I Think I Like It, Apostrophe (Frank Zappa)

Many times, the relationship between Soulive and their guests is one that has been cultivated in New York City, in front of Soulive fans who get to witness local musical guest sit-ins during local shows. Last night’s first guest, avant-garde pianist and organist Marco Benevento, a long-time NYC resident now living in Woodstock, is a Bowlive alum that fit this category. Benevento adds an element of improvisational psychedelia and locks right into the groove of every tune he touches with a specific experimental jazzy sound that defines his music. Soulive, with the help of the Shady Horns, churned out “El Ron” and teased Bob Marley’s “WAR” before a crushing “Reverb.” Saxophonist James Casey, baritone saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpeter Eric Bloom went into a hot, circular jam session, just the three of them, before Benevento joined the stage for another Soulive original “Upright.” Benevento made his presence known with an extended face-melting solo of his own. He remained on stage for the rest of the set, seamlessly layering his sound amongst the trio’s for “Swamp E” and The Beatles cover, “Revolution.” As much as Benevento is known for his own amazing techniques and stand alone performances, he is also part of a wonderful Led Zeppelin tribute band, Bustle In Your Hedgerow, which New York jam band music fans fawn over. So, when Zeppelin's “The Ocean” began, Benevento fans and beyond went ballistic and everyone’s musical taste buds were satisfied.

Set One: El Ron, Reverb, Upright (w/ Marco), Swamp E (w/ Marco), Revolution (Beatles cover w/ Marco), The Ocean (Led Zeppelin cover w/ Marco)

The second set came quick as the excitement of the next guest was something that could hardly be contained by the members of Soulive. Los Lobos guitarist David Hildalgo came out on stage and became the newest musician to join the Bowlive roster. Granted, he snuck into a few tunes the previous night but now was his time to shine. For those of you who don’t know, Hildalgo is a world renowned guitarist who has played on albums of Buckwheat Zydeco, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Gov’t Mule, and even G. Love and Special Sauce. The list of collaborations goes on as does Hildalgo’s ability to play multiple instruments and styles. However, tonight, his vocals and guitar skills would be the highlight of the second set. Soulive performed “Shaheed” alone before Hildalgo picked up his guitar and walked out to a screaming audience. He veered completely off the setlist and performed a fantastic version of Traffic’s “Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring.” The energy on stage was magnetic and the foursome pushed the boundaries of memorable Bowlive collaborations to the limit with Hendrix’s “3rd Stone From the Sun,” and Los Lobo’s tunes, “Dream in Blue” and “Chains of Love.” The Shady Horns threw out killer solos amongst the jams and a highlight of the evening was watching Hildalgo and Krasno trade licks off each other for Jerry Garcia’s “West LA Fade Away.” The tie between Garcia comes from Hildalgo writing “Evangeline,” which the Jerry Garcia Band covered regularly. Hildalgo and Jerry played together on numerous occasions and had a huge respect for one another’s playing. The musicianship on stage was outstanding and the set was pure fire. It’s impossible to replay into words sometimes and for those who were present, they know what I am talking about!

Set Two: Shaheed, Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring (Traffic cover), Dream of Love (Los Lobos Cover) >, 3rd Stone From the Sun (Jimi Hendrix cover), Chains of Love (Los Lobos cover), Revolution (The Beatles cover), West LA Fade Away (Grateful Dead cover), Stone Free (Jimi Hendrix cover)

Finally, last evening’s encore could easily rank high in Bowlive History as one of the best. It wasn’t just an encore... It was a “Neil-Core”: Soulive ended the night with a Neil Young medley for the ages, touching on three distinctly different parts of Neil Young's career. There could not have had a better supporting cast of guitarists to bring the screeching Neil Young chords to life with David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and Tash Neil (The London Souls) on stage alongside Eric Kranso. The first song in the Neil medley was “Ohio,” a political song written by Neil Young about the 1970 Kent State shootings and the protest movement that it helped shape. “Ohio” was followed up by a spirited version of "Down by the River," a tune Neil Young and Crazy Horse played on the album Everybody Knows This is Nowhere. Alan Evans, who was lending his drum kit to The London Souls Chris St. Hilaire, shared the vocals on that tune with Tash O’Neal. Seeing Alan in the middle of the stage with a microphone in his hand was new and fun. He seemed to be having a blast. Soulive went even deeper into the Neil Young catalog by playing "For What It's Worth," another powerful protest song written by Neil's band mate in the Buffalo Springfield, Stephen Stills. These three songs forced those remaining at the Brooklyn Bowl into a dancing frenzy of happiness.

Encore: Ohio (CSNY), Down By the River (Neil Young and Crazy Horse), For What it's Worth (Buffalo Springfield)

Sure, it was Wednesday night and the audience was weary from dancing their legs off the previous nights, but true music fans love hearing famous covers performed by their favorite bands. Soulive has been consistently banging out tight versions of their own originals but it’s the rousing covers of popular classic rock songs that brought the jam band crowd of the Brooklyn Bowl to their Nirvana last night. These collaborations also feed the members of Soulive. Marco Benevento and David Hildalgo expanded the consciousness of Soulive last night and the audience was just in awe.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Heavy Pets 3.6.13

Hodi’s Half Note
Fort Collins, Colorado

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock

My long awaited rendezvous with The Heavy Pets finally happened on a Wednesday night in Fort Collins. They were on a dizzying four-night run with Jet Edison that included a stop up the hill in Breckenridge as well. Jet Edison has been a figure in the local jam scene for several years. Last year they took the time trek around the country after finishing school at CU Boulder. These guys know how it’s done blending jam sensibility with a rock delivery. They’ve built up a solid repertoire and continue to wow audiences far and wide. They are a quintessential Boulder jamband and each member uses their talents well. They opened up with “Places.”

Set One: Places, Stratus, Wading, Undercover, Simon, Dances, Gold

They seem to be building up a new song list, as much of what they played was new to me. Phil Johnson’s dynamic keys synched properly with Max Kabst’s guitar making for a nice back and forth. These guys are definitely ready for the next step, and with a summer tour and new album in the works for 2013 they just might get there this year.

The Heavy Pets have to be one of the most misunderstood bands out there. There seems to be a lack of good video, and therefore people check out one song and believe that is what they sound like. I know I did. The fact of the matter is The Heavy Pets are one of the most versatile jambands touring today. Key word being jam, and boy how did they jam. They opened with “Keep Me Running.”

Set One: Keep Me Running, John Galt, A Taste of Wind, Got To Know, Stepping Away, Xylophone>Sports>Xylophone, Spin 'Round, Last Babies, Earthchaser, Eleanor B. Roosevelt

The Heavy Pets are a roundhouse kick to your sensibilities as they literally shred their way through and all possible genres. Nothing seems to be off limits as they dabble in funk, rock, jazz-fusion, roots reggae, blues, you name it. They bounce through these various soundscapes smoothly like the passing of a baton in an Olympic relay race. THP seems to be yet another post-jamband incorporating the foundation, but trying to take a broad approach rather than focusing on a single flavor. Jeff Loyd led the band through a nonstop set that just killed. Again as the night went on people slowly dribbled out into the night, but I found myself compelled to stay. They closed their massive set with an amazing “Eleanor B. Rossevelt.” I would definitely recommend getting out there and seeing The Heavy Pets. They are steadily growing and it won’t be long before these intimate club shows will be a thing of the past.

Nicholas' Photo Gallery

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bowlive IV Night Four: Soulive feat. Booker T.

Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn, NY

Words By Karen Dugan (

Dedicated music lovers brought themselves out to the Brooklyn Bowl for the start of Soulive’s second week of the Bowlive IV residency. Guitarist Eric Krasno, bass keyboardist Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans are back with a new week and new musical adventures. Last week’s roster was packed with sit-ins by southern blues rock guitarist Luther and percussionist Cody Dickinson (The North Mississippi Allstars), the fierce harmonica playing of John Popper (The Blues Travelers), the 70’s flare of vocalist Lee Fields and his Expression Horns, the pedal steel slide guitar styling of Robert Randolph (Robert Randolph and the Family Band), the soul-filled flavor of vocalist Nigel Hall and the spinning talents of DJ Logic. Surprise guests included the amazing Allman Brothers Band guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks and trombonist Sanders Sermon (Tedeschi/Trucks Band).

One of the best parts of Bowlive this year has been the killer opening bands kicking off every night. Kung Fu absolutely blew the roof off the first night, setting a pace of rage for the rest of the week. The second night followed with the powerful 8-piece Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds who kept the energy high and the Alecia Chakour Band delivered their sultry sounds on Saturday. You can read about those shows in earlier posts on Following one of the best first weeks in Bowlive history, the formula would to remain the same. The high powered, high energy, talented horn-crunching musicianship of saxophonist Cocheme Gastulem (Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings) and his band, The Electric Sounds of Johnny Arrow, showcased a different style of music to Soulive fans. The sounds of Africa’s Fela Kuti and 70’s baritone player Lekan Animashanu provided influence to the tunes. One’s hips couldn’t help but begin to grind to the pulsating percussion infused music. After the opening set, there were members of the audience who could be overheard discussing these new sounds that Soulive had introduced to their Bowlive roster.

Set List: Dark City, Carlito, Impala 73, You’re So Good To Me, Heleyos, Lluva Con Nieve, Fathom 5, No Goodbyes

The theme for the rest of the night was simple. Play one strong, satisfying Tribute to Stax Records with one of the coolest, hippest, electric blues keyboardist of all time, Booker T. Jones (Booker T. and the MG’s.) However, the audience had to be patient. Soulive purists still needed to see their favorite trio stand alone. Alan, Neal and Eric performed “Outrage” and “Dig” before the Shady Horns joined the stage. Baritone saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpeter Eric Bloom (Lettuce) and James Casey (Trey Anastasio Band) brought another layer of funk to the vibe with “Hatrick” and even more horns joined when Cocheme’s baritone saxophonist Freddy Deboe and saxophonist Mike Buckley sat in on “For Granted.” Their powerful horn solos overwhelmed the speakers causing feedback that took a minute to control and it was back into full funky rage. When Booker T. Jones came on stage, the crowd went wild. To experience an entire set with Booker T. and Soulive was liberating. However, to see how excited Soulive was, well, that was just icing on the cake of what was a delicious remaining night of music. Krasno put it best as he spoke to the audience, explaining that as much fun as it is for the fans, it’s equally as fun for Soulive, as they are fans themselves. Fans that have the distinct pleasure and honor of inviting their mentors and influences on stage to join them. The passion for Booker T. was also evident as you looked around the audience and saw other famous Jam-world faces such as Erik Kalb (Deep Banana Blackout), David Bailis (Pimps of Joytime), and Alecia Chakour (Alecia Chakour Band).

Booker T. and Soulive crushed out iconic Booker T. and the MGs hits “Hip Hug Her,” “Hang ‘Em High,” “Time is Tight,” and more. They broke out covers like Warren Haynes’ “Born Under a Bad Sign,” with Booker T. on vocals. There was the catchy instrumental versions of Cee Lo Green’s “Crazy,” and Lauryn Hill’s “Everything is Everything,” with each instrument on stage taking the lead on each song. It was sharp, stunning and solid. The Booker T’s Memphis soul sound was supported wonderfully by Soulive, all three of whom were grinning from ear to ear throughout the entire set. Finally, it wouldn’t be Bowlive without a surprise special guest. Guitarist David Hildago (Los Lobos) would pop out halfway in the middle of tunes then disappear again. This would continue through the set, teasing us with what would be seen on night five. The Booker T. encore was the most recognizable tune of all, the instrumental classic, “Green Onions,” with its ripping Hammond Organ line were both Neal and Booker T. enjoyed trading licks on their keys. That song threw everyone, of all ages, back into the soundtrack of 1993’s The Sandlot, back riding around in their 1962 Chevy Impala Convertible with the top down. It is a song that defined the ages and every one of all ages was invested. Capping off the night, the trio stood alone on stage for “Tuesday Night Squad,” a nod to the night and perhaps Soulive’s way of naming the dedicated tribe who supported them on such an early weeknight. The Tuesday Night Squad we became and Bowlive fanatics should hold that badge with honor, the same way Soulive was visibly honored to perform for us last night with such an amazing icon of music.

Last night’s tribute to Stax Records was a pleasure. Tonight get there on time for another stunner of an opener with the ever-rocking London Souls and guests Marco Benevento (keys) and guitarist David Hildago (Los Lobos).

Set List: Hip Hug Her, Hang ‘Em High, Born Under A Bad Sign, Crazy, Time is Tight, Something, Everything is A Everything

Encore: Green Onions, Tuesday Night Squad

The Congress Releases New EP – The Loft Tapes

Words & Photo By Nicholas Stock

A cover is a frame of reference a music fan shares with the band. As odd as it seems it is a starting point for critical comparison and a place to juxtapose the band against what has come before. Many bands including The Grateful Dead, Phish and even Pearl Jam understand the power of a cover as a tool to connect with their audiences. The Congress takes all this into account with their latest EP The Loft Tapes, which is their take on some very recognizable soul classics.

Since landing in Denver just a few short years ago The Congress has truly made a name for themselves. On the heels of their first full-length album Whatever You Want, just last year The Congress is again on the cusp of yet another release. This recording, which was done over the course of a week last January in Berthoud, Colorado at an old Masonic Temple, shows a level of maturity and elegance that is simply arresting. The vocals of Jonathan Meadows are front and center in the heartfelt delivery of each song. Everything just sounds right in this recording. From the simple and clean processing reminiscent of Motown style sound to the dynamic instrumentation focusing on not overplaying, The Loft Tapes are spot on. “Killing Me Softly” in particular is both fresh and nostalgic as singer Meadows has a more nuanced delivery than some of his previous studio work. Scott Lane adds fire to this track by way of his extraordinary guitar work. Their version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” contains some amazing organ from newcomer Chris Speasmaker as well. The cover of Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” was the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

There seems to be a renaissance of rock and soul happening now. With bands like The Fitz and the Tantrums, The Monophonics, and JC Brooks and The Uptown Band popping up across the country, it is evident there is a trend. The Congress seems to be in touch with their soulful side as well, and I look forward to seeing them work this more delicate approach into their live show. The Loft Tapes drops locally this weekend at The Congress’s first headlining show at The Bluebird Theater. The album will hit shelves nationally on April 16th, just prior to Record Store Day. Get a copy and get ready to set it on repeat.

Track Listing:

Killing Me Softly
People Get Ready
Que Sera, sera
You’ve Got A Friend
What’s Going On
Fool For You
Into The Mystic

Two Nights of Greensky Bluegrass 3.1 & 3.2

The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn
Audio By Phil Rollins

Greensky Bluegrass Live at Fox Theater on March 1, 2013.

After living in Colorado for the past six years, I have started to realize that finding a true local of this great state is quite difficult to do. I came here to attend CU Boulder for college (like many others) and fell in love with the city, state, and culture as my college years progressed. Born and raised in the Bay Area (California), I craved a new adventure, new scene, and especially new music when I was choosing between the various colleges I was accepted to. So when I chose to move to Boulder, Colorado I expected native Coloradoans to be everywhere, but I quickly found out this was not the case at all. Boulder, much like other big cities in Colorado has been taken over by us “Transplant Natives.” We bring our cultures, our sayings, and our quirky traditions to the Rocky Mountains and then decide to never leave because Colorado is just where we are supposed to be. From what I have seen in the past six years, the two states that have transplanted the most people from their respective homelands are California and Michigan. Both states bring with them an array of their cultural necessities and thankfully great musical roots are one of them.

I was lucky enough to see an awesome Michigan band come through town this past weekend, Greensky Bluegrass. This bluegrass quintet has really hit its stride in the past couple of years extending their tours to the far coasts on each side of the United States and being featured in many festival lineups across the country. They even made it onto the exclusive Jam Cruise boat this year and rocked our world with a variety of covers, guest sit-ins, and surprise performances. This past weekend at the Fox Theater in Boulder was no different as the Kalamazoo-born group ripped through bluegrass classics such as “Can’t Stop Now,” “Broke Mountain Brokedown” and “How Mountain Girls Can Love” with beautiful timing and exquisite string transitions which reminded me of what the String Cheese Incident used to sound like. Each night had a variety of unique and downright awesome covers, which included “Midnight Rider,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “Boogie on Reggae Women” and my personal weekend highlight the Coolio hit “Gangsta’s Paradise.” As I watched Ryan Montbleau (the weekend’s opening act, who has an amazing voice) belt out the high notes as the Michigan boys ripped those rap chords apart on their respective string instruments, a perfect harmony was formed and the crowd’s appreciation was well noted.

Each time I see this band from the state of Great Lakes I fall deeper and deeper in love with their sound, especially Paul Hoffman’s powerful voice. The lead singer/mandolin player has a commanding presence on stage and his string picking skills go hand in hand with the beautiful voice he possesses. With Paul leading the charge each member of the band has a unique way to contribute to each song. On night one of the Fox Theater run, dobro player Anders Beck was highlighted in many of the songs and the distinct twang of his magical instrument bled through the Fox speakers like an open wound. With every finger pick made Anders gained the attention and adoration of more and more young Boulderites who yearn for good bluegrass whenever they can get it. Standing next to Anders is guitar player David Bruzza and his amazing mustache. Not only does Mr. Bruzza have great facial hair, but also his guitar skills and vocal capabilities fit perfectly with this quintet and were quite evident throughout the entire weekend. Heading up the rhythm section (as there is no drummer) is stand-up bass player Mike Devol. Much like his counterpart Travis Book of the Infamous Stringdusters, Mike does a great job at keeping the band on track and even steps up to the microphone once in awhile to let out some beautiful deep vocals. Michael Bont is the banjo player via stage right and his animated playing style easily brings a smile to any on-lookers face, as does much of the music this quintet produces each night.

Greensky Bluegrass Live at Fox Theater on March 2, 2013.

As with any recent Greensky Bluegrass show I left the Fox Theater wanting more goodness, more bluegrass, and especially more vocals from Paul Hoffman. Even though they didn’t play my favorite cover “Road to Nowhere” by the Talking Heads (Yarmony a couple years ago was amazing due to this group), I can proudly say that I have fallen for these Michiganders. I have seen them in a variety of settings, venues, and festivals without ever walking away disappointed and I truly hope this continues as these guys along with the Stringdusters are going to be the new faces of jam-grass. In my opinion it would be a travesty to miss Greensky open up for Galactic at the mighty Red Rocks Amphitheatre this summer, as I will most certainly be there raging with the thousands of other Michigan transplants to move here recently. All you have to do is look for the Bells Brewery bottles or Red Wings attire and those Michigan kids stick out like sore thumbs. Luckily most of those hockey loving, perch-eating, and bluegrass dancing fools are pretty awesome people, and one thing is for sure they come from a land of Green Sky and Blue Grass!

Kevin's Photo Gallery

Preview: Two Nights Greg Garrison's Improvised Roots feat. Darol Anger

Dazzle Restaurant and Lounge
Denver, CO

Join us on Friday March 15th & Saturday March 16th at Dazzle in Denver for Greg Garrison's (Leftover Salmon) "Improvised Roots No. 4" w/ Art Lande, Darol Anger & Joel Harrison!

Check out our coverage of "Improvised Roots No. 3"

Purchase Friday 7:00 PM Tickets Here

Purchase Friday 9:00 PM Tickets Here

Purchase Saturday 7:00 PM Tickets Here

Purchase Saturday 9:00 PM Tickets Here

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

MusicMarauders Presents: Mickey Hart Band 3.1.13

The Oriental Theater
Denver, CO

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock
Audio By Corey Sandoval (Kind Recordings)

The world renowned drummer of the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart, came to town for a MusicMarauders Presents show at The Oriental Theater in the Highlands of Denver. Mickey and his band, which includes Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools along with Crystal Monee Hall on vocals, Joe Bagale on vocals, guitar, and keys, Gawain Matthews on guitar, Sikiru Adepoju on the talking drum, and Greg Schutte on kit, were in the midst of a three blast across Colorado. With stops in Boulder, Denver, and Aspen as part of larger spring tour, the band was in fine form for a Friday night on the Front Range. There was an issue online with the posted show times causing many including myself to arrive a full two hours prior to the doors opening. There was a large drum circle across the street from the venue and it being First Friday, we warmed up in a gallery. When the doors finally opened we were still a full hour away from the African Showboyz taking the stage. The story goes that Mickey was going to take part in a drum circle / workshop that was cancelled at the last minute. I thought given the circumstances Mickey should have made his way across the street to the aforementioned drum circle and jammed for the early arrivers. That did not happen.

Up first was a group hailing all the way from a small village in Ghana, West Africa. The only description appropriate for this group of four brothers is stunning. The African Showboyz utilizing traditional instrumentation including the bind douk, bin bill and the tonton sanson, and incorporating customary dances that were simply jaw-dropping to watch live. They are touring ambassadors whose primary mission is to spread “recognition for the suffrage of the African people.” Performing Bob Marley classics such as “Redemption Song” alongside the songs of their native village made it all very approachable. The driving rhythm of the drums accompanied by the poetic voices of the Sabbah brothers was absolutely mesmerizing. They finished their breathtaking set with a simple dance and salute to the crowd. My only issue was that they performed behind the headliners rig, which seemed weird to me. The Mickey Hart Band made their way to the stage shortly after 10 PM. They jumped right into the muddy goodness with a huge “Shakedown Street” opener.

Mickey Hart Band Live at Oriental Theater on March 1, 2013.

Set One: Shakedown Street> Starlight Starbright> Franklin’s Tower> Bully Boy> Bird Song> Magic Wand> Fire On The Mountain

Set Two: Samson & Delilah> Slow Joe Rain> Playing In The Band> Morning Of The World> Playin’ Reprise> Supersonic Vision> Cut The Deck> China Cat Sunflower> I Know You Rider

Encore: Brokedown Palace

The overall show was a solid mix of MHB originals and standard Grateful Dead. Hall seemed to take primary vocal duties on the majority of the songs giving an entirely new feel to some of the classic tunes. At times it was jarring, but her powerful vocals won me over in the end. Tucked in the back of the stage was Schools who even added his voice to the backup mic a few times throughout the night. Mickey stood flanked by his 360-degree personal drum monstrosity, which included electronic drum pads hooked to an array of effects. “Franklin’s Tower” was a beautiful addition to the set as the kaleidoscope lights danced on the ceiling of the historic theater. “Magic Wand” their original, was truly an energetic high. They closed with the much-expected “Fire On The Mountain.”

The second set started perfectly well with a tight version of “Samson & Delilah,” but it quickly fell apart with the alternative sounding “Slow Joe Rain.” As they were playing, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief. I can understand a band wanting to sound current, but this was current circa 1992, and just felt totally out of place. MHB quickly redeemed themselves with an extended take on “Playing In The Band” that featured “Morning Of The World” as the meat of the jam. They finished the set with a huge “China Cat” “Rider” that was enough to make any Dead fan happy. Mickey and Friends encored with a lovely “Brokedown Palace.” It was a solid show from a band that appears to be finding its stride. Much like Billy’s band 7 Walkers, Mickey is using his golden years to make his own mark and write his own musical chapter. None of the living members of the Grateful Dead have anything to prove, they’ve done it all and they’ve paved the way. Now, they have earned the chance to relax, perform, or not perform. Each show is a blessing and a chance to celebrate the music of the Grateful Dead. Go out and celebrate.

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