Moksha feat. Peter Apfelbaum, Jen Hartswick & Skerik 4.4.13

The Aggie Theatre
Fort Collins, CO

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock

There can be nothing more disheartening for a touring band than to show up and see a crowd of nine people as your audience. This is exactly what happened at The Aggie for Moksha’s headlining gig. Touring with an amazing guest horn section consisting of Skerik, Jennifer Hartswick, and Peter Apfelbaum, the lack of people seemed even more tragic. I arrived early with a few friends and we were immediately confronted with the sweet reggae fusion sounds of Funkmaster. Funkmaster, aka Matt Grundstad, moved to Colorado with world music ensemble Euforquestra. They have since parted ways, giving Matt more time to focus on studio collaborations, performing with Dubskin, and his solo work. The Funkmaster setup has been a long time in the making. I first saw him utilize his muliti-instrumentalism along with a looping board all the way back in college. Needless to say the show has progressed immensely into a polished set of music that demonstrates not only his musicianship and vocal ability, but his knowledge of song craft and playing to an audience. Even if that audience is only a few hearty souls. He got our attention with a spot on version of Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” built from the ground up. The highlight of his set was a massive mashup of Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” Parliament Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under A Groove” and “The Thong Song” among others. He ended his set with a nod to Toots and The Maytals who were just at The Aggie by playing “Bam Bam.”

Up to the stage next was Smooth Money Gesture who jumped on Moshka’s run for their last two nights in Colorado. Smooth Money has been MIA as of late so it was nice to see them back on a bill in Fort Collins. SMG is quintessential Nederland jam with a touch of funk and rock influences. Smooth Money played a set that was just short of an hour, but they sounded fresh, considering they have been on a mini-hiatus for the last few months. They are back playing locally and are definitely worth checking out.

Moksha came to the stage and despite the lack of an audience ripped through an hour and a half of the funky jam.

Set One: BNJ, Blind, Seed, Bobbin, Sexy M.F., Bathcat, Gettin, Awaken, Rite Away, Island, You Haven’t Done Shit

Although they cut their headlining set short, they can’t really be blamed. Musically they took us on a sweet ride that actually left me wanting more. They had a strong focus and the horns only added to the overall quality of the performance. Peter Apfelbaum is a jazz savant who can literally play anything, Skerik is a machine, and Jennifer Hartswick is the one-two punch of powerful trumpet and beautiful vocals. My one complaint is that these three seemed almost pushed to the back of the stage and did not seem to be featured on solos as much as I would have liked. Either way it was amazing to see these three with Moksha as they played a wide array of their originals. The highlight of the show was the set closing Hartswick song, “You Haven’t Done Shit.” It may have been somewhat disappointing for the band, but I have to say I was not let down. This ended up being a private show for me and a few other lucky individuals who made it down. You can literally hear the absence of people in the videos I shot, making for a surreal experience. That being said, I had a blast and will definitely be waiting for the return of Moksha.

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