LOHI Music Festival 6.15.13

Highland Tap & Burger
Denver, CO

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock
Audio By Ed Simon

The LOHI Festival is a musical street fair tucked into the Lower Highlands of Denver, Colorado. Stretching a full city block in front of the Highland Tap and Burger this event is truly a gem in Denver’s summer concert schedule. Featuring two stages, a wide array of food vendors, and a nice selection of beer, LOHI has everything a concertgoer could want. The day began early under a beautiful blue sky with Garrett Sayers Trio. Unfortunately, due to traffic and a late start I was unable to make his set, which began just after noon. However we did make it in plenty of time to see world jam connoisseurs Euforquestra open up the Spring 44 stage.

Euforquestra recently suffered a blow when their drummer Craig Babineau hyper extended his shoulder just before their last jaunt out on the road. While he's healing, Jet Edison’s Alex Johnson has been filling in quite well on the kit. Scott Mast continues to blossom on percussion as Euforquestra also invites various guests to sit in on the second saxophone spot left vacant by new father Ryan Jeter. This time The Motet’s Matt Pitts again took the space helping to fill out their already full sound. Their set consisted of some fun covers and some of their best originals. Beck’s “Nicotine and Gravy” was a real crowd pleaser, but it was “Road Funk” and “Price Is Right” that really demonstrated the legitimacy of this band.

Euforquestra Live at LoHi Music Festival - Spring 44 Stage on June 15, 2013.

Springdale Quartet was up next on the HTB Stage. Each set began as the previous finished so that no one missed a note of music. This primarily instrumental jazz quartet continues to amaze every time they perform. They are a tight musical formation that has the ability to detonate in a way that is jaw dropping. Their set at LoHi was a non-stop forty-five minutes that left fans wanting more. “Drop That Stick” was an explosive jam featuring some stellar drum work from Greg Russell. They entertained with an instrumental version of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.” We were told that this version would be included on their upcoming album produced by Alan Evans. Springdale was joined by virtuoso Pete Wall on saxophone for the end of their set. They closed with their original “Charlie Jean.”

Toubab Krewe is a band that defies categorization on many levels. Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina, this quintet unifies West African roots music with pure rock and roll. I have wanted to see them for quite some time, but this was my first chance. It was a beautiful set that demonstrated some of the most incredible music being performed live today. After a quick intro by Matt Butler they opened with “Marietou.”

Toubab Krewe Live at LoHi Music Festival - Spring 44 Stage on June 15, 2013.

Set One: Marietou, Maliba, Area Code and Konkoba, Kaira, John Hardy, Cluck Old Hen, Lamine’s, Water Ritual

Blending both time-honored African music as well as riff-heavy rock Toubab Krewe’s set was hypnotic. The highlight was a fifteen-minute traditional version of “Kaira.” They closed by asking for rain by inviting all those present to drink water. It was truly a great musical experience.

Blake’s Tiger Party followed on the Tap Stage. This is a collective of musicians that specializes in funky goodness. The lineup included Pete Wall, Joey Porter, Ryan Burnett, Josh Fairman, and Seth Fankhauser. The Highland Tap and Burger has become a place for bands to develop and grow within the confines of a residency. Tiger Party seems to be the next band that will incubate in this environment and grow into a fully developed project. Their set at LoHi was eye opening to say the least. Matt Butler came to the stage and orchestrated another funk fueled jam. Finally, they invited female vocalist, Ashley Niven, up to end their set. Tiger Party is a versatile and interesting group and I look forward to seeing them reach great heights in the Denver music scene.

The New Mastersounds were given just over ninety minutes to demonstrate their incredible brand of funky UK jazz. They opened with “Soulshine.”

New Mastersounds Live at LoHi Music Festival on June 15, 2013.

Set One: Soulshine, Dusty Groove, The Road to Fuji Rock, Yo Moma, Fast Man, Summercamp, You Mess Me UP, Take What You Need, Carrot Juice, Hole In The Bag, San Frantico, Eazin Down, Pure

The New Mastersounds were a huge draw for LoHi and an amazing addition to the lineup. Their musical output lead by guitarist Eddie Roberts is impeccable. Simon Allen engaged the audience clad in a pair of Speedos as he snapped away on the drums. The set was too much fun as the light grew golden around the buildings that framed the festival.

Poor Man’s Whiskey went on just before 7:00 PM with special guest Allie Kral. Allie’s departure from Cornmeal has already had quite the effect on the jam and bluegrass community. She will persevere as is obvious by her set with Poor Man’s Whiskey. Busting out tunes like “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and their original “Humboldt Hoedown,” Allie’s fiery violin was an impressive addition to the classic tone of Poor Man’s Whiskey. Their set was the longest on the HTB stage and a great close to that side of LoHi.

It was finally time for the main event. Kyle Hollingsworth Band was given a two-hour set on the main stage. Just prior to their start Matt Butler came out and gave the microphone to two young lovers. A man proposed to his girlfriend on the stage and she luckily said, "Yes." Following the very public proposal, Kyle came out with his group consisting of Garrett Sayers, Dave Watts, and Dan Schwindt. Kyle has one the most enjoyable String Cheese side projects currently touring. The exact flair that he adds to SCI is distilled into this multi-talented band. This particular show also included Michael Kang sitting in for the extended set. They began with “Racer X.”

Kyle Hollingsworth Band Live at LoHi Music Festival on June 15, 2013.

This was just a great musical display from KHB. After a song or two Michael Kang came out and remained for the rest of the night on the Spring 44 stage. “Can’t Wait Another Day,” Kyle’s tribute to his daughter was a great early addition. However the “Way That It Goes" into “Slipnot” into “Boogie On Reggae Woman” was the true highlight. Matt Butler joined them for an orchestrated jam. They closed with Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On.” As the moon rose over the massive crowd it was clear that LoHi Music Festival was another incredibly successful occasion in Denver. With just over ten hours of continuous live music LoHi proved to be just about all we could handle. Even with a huge late night show looming we decided to call it a night. LoHi Music Festival is quickly becoming a tradition not to be missed in Denver. I look forward to watching it grow and expand as time goes on.

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