Tuesday, August 27, 2013

MusicMarauders Presents: The New Mastersounds

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot Photography)

Red Coats. Tea and Crumpets. Soccer Hooligans. These are just three of the various things that come to my mind when I think of the United Kingdom, and more specifically Great Britain. The “Isle of Plenty”, as many Europeans have come to call it has produced a number of incredible musical acts/performers over the years. For starters, such bands as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones all originate and hail from Queen Elizabeth’s playground while musicians such as Eric Clapton, David Bowie, and Elton John were born and bred in Britain as well. Such an incredible amount of musical talent coming from one nation is not too uncommon, but when it includes the likes of those I mentioned above one might be forced to say that the “Isle of Plenty” has produced not only some of the best talent ever seen on our musical earth, but the most impressive lineup of bands one nation could put forth.

So how do musicians coming out of Great Britain live up to the hype and standard of these mega-bands/musicians who have come before them? Hailing from the town of Leeds, The New Mastersounds have taken the idea of following in these superstar’s footsteps and thrown some seriously funky beats at it. Led by guitarist and crowd pleaser Eddie Roberts, this British quartet has been touring the world hard as of late, and brings with them their own version of a funky good time. Known for truly making the crowds want to dance their pants off, The New Mastersounds have created a nice little following for them out here in our great state of Colorado. Whether their popularity has increased from playing Cervantes the last couple of years, headlining the secopnd annual LOHI Festival with the Kyle Hollingsworth Band this past June, or being part of this year’s world-renowned Telluride Jazz Festival, Eddie Roberts and his funky British band-mates are taking the jamband scene by storm and popping up all over the festival circuit. So why are they becoming so popular?

Let me be the first one to tell you, The New Mastersounds are on fucking fire! In my opinion, their continual rise up the popularity charts is due their incredible musicianship along with their care-free, no worries, have a great dance party attitude. Known throughout Europe and Japan for their renditions on classic hits and complete commitment to the idea of a “New Funk” scene, these lads definitely know their way around any musical instrument. Joe Tatton, the resident B3 Hammond and keyboard wizard of Leeds has a great feel for the ivories and uses jazz chord progressions to balance out the level of necessary funk. Tatton, playing from a seated position most of the night seems to even direct Roberts and the overall groove of the band from time to time and can take a song from one genre to another without hesitation. Whether it is a funky almost bass-like line, or an up-tempo, mind-rattling B3 solo, Tatton has complete control when it comes to the keys.

When you have funk, you must have rhythm and The New Mastersounds have plenty of it. Utilizing bass playing Pete Shand’s groovy and fast-moving bass lines with Simon Allen’s pure enthusiasm and youthfully entertaining way of playing the drums, the rhythm section of this British quarter does not seem to ever miss a beat. Simon is a hoot on the drum kit, and each time I have had the pleasure of seeing him play, he is missing a different piece of clothing. (It was his shirt this time) Along with his great personality Allen is a beast when it comes to all things having to do with percussion and with Shand on the bass form a very formidable rhythm section. Pete Shand seems like the coolest man in the room each time he takes the stage and his playing certainly can back it up. Standing and playing to the right of band leader Eddie Roberts, Shand calls out different instructions and timing changes whenever he deems fit and always seems to be right on cue. With Allen, Shand, and Tatton The New Mastersounds don’t need much else to get the job done, but throw in their producer/leader Eddie Roberts and the quartet just became a whole lot cooler.

I first was introduced to Roberts and his very unique way of shredding the guitar on this past year’s Jam Cruise as he led the infamous “SuperJam” along with an amazing array of various musicians. Immediately I was drawn to Roberts after seeing his classic way of dressing and slicked back hairstyle mixing right in with all of us “High on Life” cruisers. Eddie has an amazing aura surrounding him wherever he goes, and the essence of old-school jazz/funk exudes from his skin like I’m sure it used to with B.B. King and Buddy Guy. I instantly fell for Roberts and his fast-paced way of strumming his guitar and each time I am fortunate to be in the same town as one of his project’s I make sure to put my life on hold and attend the show. For this particular evening, Eddie invited one of his newest musical friends and Denver’s own Kim Dawson from The Motet to join along for the festivities and her sultry powerful voice blended in perfectly with the British funk. Roberts and Dawson seem like they were born in the same era as that “Old, funky” musical feeling, which I get when I see someone such as Bill Frisell, can also be seen in Dawson’s magnificent beauty. Roberts always seems to be right on point with his musical ideas, and I am very glad he decided to invite Ms. Dawson to join the party.

Funk. Jazz. Funky jazz. Jazzy funk. All four of these similar, but yet different enough musical genres allow The New Mastersounds to take each one and perfect it to an unmatched level of expertise. No matter which member of the quartet begins the song, or leads the groove of that particular moment each piece is played with a great passion and obvious determination to be as perfect as possible. Roberts, who produces and leads the group has the ability to play any song, any note, and with any band. Tatton, as I mentioned before is a wizard on the B3/keys and can be heard trading riffs with all members of the band at different times throughout a performance. Shand and Allen provide the rhythm, which drives the bus that is this unique version of British funk, and are irreplaceable when it comes to what The New Mastersounds are doing on a nightly basis. And adding Kim Dawson to the mix on this night is just almost unfair for us common musical observers. So what should you take from this? Go see these guys whenever they are in town because I promise it is not only a great musical time, but the level of entertainment which is provided is hard to match.

“The British are coming!” Yes they are, and I hope they keep bringing the funk with them.

Kevin's Photo Gallery


Friday, August 23, 2013

Henhouse Prowlers 'Breaking Ground'

Words By J-man

For years the Henhouse Prowlers have been touring the country relentlessly picking their way through bars, barns and increasingly larger spaces. On the eve of the release of their third album, Breaking Ground, I reflect on a band who's growth I have watched closely, both musically and personally, over the better part of a decade. As of late The Prowlers have earned opportunities aboard The Mountain Songs at Sea Cruise, with some of the biggest names in the industry. As well, they have earned the position of providing direct support for The Del McCoury Band at Del Yeah, among many other incredible honors. Through all of their accomplishments comes a band driven by their love of a music that reflects the past, present and future and is one of the most respected and cherished genres in this country, bluegrass. As I hit play, I closed my eyes and I was taken back to another time.

Soaring instrumentation collides with fascinating storytelling and the relatable emotion of love, loss and the trials and tribulations of being human. Songs like "Why Is The Night So Long," "Lonesome Road" and "Drunk Again" kick off Breaking Ground putting the "blue" in "bluegrass" with beautiful fills and harmonies. Traditional murder ballad, "Pretty Polly," and the original "The Track," reinforce a story-telling style that has all but died in the industry. Dan Andree's vocals are raw and full of depth offering a fantastic flavor on his first album with the band. Another much needed component of a bluegrass album is the train song, which comes in the form of "Another Train," packed with metaphors and old time imagery. "Ravenswood Getaway" features special guests Greg Cahill on banjo and Josh Williams on guitar for the album's most impressive picking.

Original band members Ben Wright and Jon Goldfine shine vocally and Ben's prominent banjo work leads the charge with perfect timing and impressive skill. Songs like "Scratching Post" and the title track "Breaking Ground" seem obvious choices for potential singles, while songs like "Soul Saver" also feature catchy licks and bright melodies. Starr Moss, who is also appearing on his first Henhouse Prowlers album, brings guitar-slinging quickness and a youthful edge to the sometimes traditional sound. One of the albums most unique tracks, a cover of The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," features Dan's screaming vocals and Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass on the dobro. The track offers yet another element of variety to an already incredible display of range.

Upon the albums conclusion, I was given no choice but to start again from the top. Every once in a while an album comes along that you can listen to all of the way through, with one great track after another, keeping your fingers from skipping ahead. Breaking Ground is one of those albums. I am filled with pride for a band who has put in its time and has worked so hard to get where they are today in an industry where sustainability is the first of many challenges. Breaking Ground is the result of all of those years of living gig to gig out of a small van, and never looking back. Congratulations to The Henhouse Prowlers!


Springdale Quartet "Heist"

Words By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

Boulder's Springdale Quartet have been one of my favorite bands in Colorado since the first time I saw them. Their blend of sophisticated jazz-funk had more muscle than other similar acts. Months ago, I heard they were recording an album with Soulive's Alan Evans as producer and I was anxious to hear the results. "Heist" began with the title track, guitarist Ben Waligoske and key player Chase Terzian began laying down a groove that felt a little reserved to me at first. Waligoske's guitar normally soared a little more than the tune acknowledged, though by the end of the song, the tension had built, and the action picked up.

"Anniversary" has been a part of their live shows over the last year, and featured the first glimpse of Waligoske's shredding. The combination of searing tone and rapid playing created an explosive energy that was relentless. "Charlee Jean" had the feel of a sigh of relief as a grooving bass line sat below sparse keys. The Guitar soared like a base jumper. One big step and it was off amongst the clouds. From the aerial view, the dance-provoking jazz accompaniment dropped sonic landscapes of texture and tone below. "Norg (Underwater)" had a mellow groove that rolled in waves of energy bursts. At certain points the guitar would lead the way to lofty peaks as the organ laid in psychedelic backdrops. The jam was slightly murky and had echo/reverb effects that were serene, aquatic, and visceral... The overall effect, that of "funk to snorkel by."

"IBM 22" was a favorite track of mine. I'd heard it live on a few occasions, and have always loved Jordan Roos' disco-funk bass groove. It was old school and funkalicious. The explosive bursts of guitar in this song were more reminiscent of the energy spikes in a live performance by the Quartet than the rest of the album. "Cubicons" reminded me a lot of Medeski, Scofield, Martin, and Wood at times. The progressions in this song seemed to be relatively tame by SQ's standards, but the track added to the big picture by providing some contrast to the plethora of progressive jazz mania that dominated the record.

"Boomer" jumped from the gate and Ben's guitar once again took command, leading the band through part jazz, part rock, part haunting territory as they made their way back to the hook. The haunting section had the vibe of an incredibly innovative and viscious jam that may have been my favorite part of the album. "Say It Ain't So" wasn't a surprise to Springdale's regular crowd, as their instrumental take has been a crowd favorite for a while, but it was nice to hear a polished and mastered recording of the classic. Chase's organ work laid the foundation of their version, and once again Benny crushed it when it counted.

"Escape" was the denouement, and gently let me down as Heist faded into the night like a whisper in the wind. The falling action was needed after such a dynamic album. It also helped solidify the concept. From it's timid beginning to it's airy ending, the album could have been just like a real heist. Quietly sneaking into the museum, taking out the guards, lifting famous paintings, and slipping away quietly, never to be caught. From cryptic song titles to action-packed musical themes, Heist had excellent continuity. Alan Evans did a fantastic job of bringing some of his soul to the project and highlighting the Quartet's talents. Pick up a copy of Heist, and listen to the Quartet getting away with it.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Railroad Earth 8.20.13

Riverwalk Center
Breckenridge, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By Carly Marthis

The Jeep headed up the steep inclines of I-70 from Denver through the Eisenhower Tunnel up to Breckenridge. Presumably, the announcement of a free Railroad Earth show would trigger an influx of hippies and spinners to the mountain town, though it was a 5:30 PM show on a Tuesday. We arrived in Breck to clouds but no rain. The town's main street was closed for the USA Pro Challenge and tents lined many of the public areas serving food, beer and displaying a plethora of random sporting gear. We crossed The Blue River onto the property of The Riverwalk Center, which was packed. We passed through the open spaces between blankets and college chairs and into the venue itself which had been overtaken by Railroad fans. The room itself was simple, no major light rig, no flashy props, just the band and a ton of fans, old and young, getting down. Security wandered through the 770 person capacity venue, throwing people out who were smoking and confiscating outside alcohol, while uniformed police officers gathered just outside of the doors. As it was a city-style event, it was assumed that there would be some minimal rules to follow.

In the midst of what was already an energetic and enjoyable set, the band dove into classic after classic. "Jupiter and The 119," "The Forecast," "Seven Story Mountain," "Mighty River" and "Long Way To Go" were all highlights of what was a stellar set. With Todd Sheaffer at the lyrical helm, Tim Carbone, John Skehan and Andy Goessling tossed around solos and melodies that reflected so much skill and even more feel for what fit perfectly into sections that were open to interpretation. Andrew Altman's bass was at times simple, as the music called for, and at times captivating, while Carey Harmon rounded out the rhythm section with expected simplicity. The music poured out of the open garage style doors on to the lawn where New Belgium beer was being served up at the affordable price of $5.00 per sizable cup. After waiting in a long line I purchased a Ranger IPA and a Pumpkick (seasonal pumpkin beer) before heading back inside to catch the tail end of the set. The crowd was ecstatic at the opportunity to see a band of the caliber of Railroad Earth performing a free show on a Tuesday afternoon. "It is Tuesday, right?" we asked one and other out of situational confusion.

Following the two hour set, we stuck around and met up with Tim who gave me some gear to hold on to until his return on September 13th for a show at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver with members of Railroad Earth supporting The Infamous Stringdusters. As we wandered out of the cleared out venue, we glanced down to see that the floor was covered in cups, double shots, and even large bottles of whiskey and other assorted cheap spirits. Folks lingered as we made our way back to the Jeep to head back down to Denver. How lucky we were to live in the mountain state of Colorado, which even on a Tuesday would present incredible musical options. "Colorado... Summertime..."

Carly's Photo Gallery


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Interview: Eric Gould & Ben Combe (Particle & Pink Talking Fish)

Particle has taken some time off and a new project has emerged that should take folks on a journey through the catalogues of three of their favorite bands: Pink Floyd, The Talking Heads & Phish. At the helm of this new project is Eric Gould (Bass) who is also joined by Ben Combe (Guitar). I had a chance to speak with Eric and Ben about Pink Talking Fish and here is what they had to say.

J-man: Congratulations on recently becoming a father! How does that affect your role in Particle?

Eric: Thanks, J! Fatherhood is crazy in many amazing ways. It is already quite a ride. Our journey to parenthood brought us to adopt a little girl from China. It’s been an adventure and a different kind of process, teaching a seventeen month old the meaning of parents and taking the time for the family bond to attach properly. As a result, we’ve spent most of the year hiding out in our own world. I’m finally in a place now where I feel comfortable crawling out of our bubble and getting back out in the world. I’ve definitely got the itch to play!

As to Particle, there’s been some writing and recording in different variations and it will present itself exactly when it is meant to happen. Steve’s been on a nice creative flow. The great thing about Particle is that it is an ever evolving machine. We’ve gone through stages of playing two hundred shows a year and traveling all across the country. We’ve gone through stages where we play fifteen shows a year and people think we don’t exist anymore. We’ve persevered through lineup changes involving death, dissension and other challenges that try the spirit. Those changes have given us a unique and special privilege to invite class acts such as Robby Krieger, Michael Kang, Josh Clark & Dan Lebowitz to tour with as temporary members of Particle. We’ve explored life outside of the band, whether it be producing, recording, performing with other groups or being involved in activity outside the music industry. We’ve been an all instrumental band, we’ve added vocals, we’ve created tours entirely of thematic covers and we’ve taken the late night live performance to new levels like the five and a half hour set from 3:00 AM-8:30 AM or the multiple Jazzfest late night breakfast sets at Howlin’ Wolf in New Orleans that started at 4:00 AM and were sponsored by Krispy Kreme.

Through all the changes and challenges, we have remained true to one thing: Particle’s music is simply a blast to play and a great vehicle for people who love to let go of their daily grind, smile big and dance their asses off! We have always opened ourselves up to different versions of Particle and it has kept life interesting. Garrett Sayers filled in for me in Denver a couple years ago. The music was fantastic and it was true to the Particle brand. Other guest musicians have subbed in for original members and the music didn’t miss a beat. Our sound is about the exploration of groove in a trance and creating a platform to let the spirit of the participating players shine. It is welcoming to different flavors of musician in the mix. I am dedicated to music and also dedicated to being there for my daughter. Whatever happens, the music that I love and that puts a big smile on my face will go on and continue to make people very happy, whether I play in every Particle performance or a portion of the future journey.

J-man: Tell me about your new project, Pink Talking Fish, the concept behind it and the players involved.

Eric: I’ve had the idea for Pink Talking Fish for a little over a year now. I have a lot of music that I consider my favorite and it is scattered all across the universe of styles. Pink Floyd, The Talking Heads & Phish are the three bands who have entire catalogues of music that I put in the “favorite” category. I know I am not alone in this thinking. There are many great tribute bands out there. Creating a hybrid fusion around the tribute concept is something that is exciting to me because it is honoring great music while also making the experience something unique and fresh. Fusing the catalogues of these three bands is a great way to execute this idea.

Writing setlists is one of, if not, my favorite part of being in a band. I have written the majority of the setlists for Particle and Hydra. When this idea came to me, the first thing I did was write a show. Once I saw it on paper, it was obvious. This band had to happen! I knew that Ben Combe was the perfect fit for this. His voice fits these songs like a glove and his talent on the guitar is unprecedented. Getting Brandon Draper to join up raised the bar. He is, in my opinion, the best drummer on the scene and the world needs to experience more of him. Ben Hutchinson is a long time friend and bandmate who has a style and finesse that is perfect for this music. I’ve got great musicians who are great people and you just can’t go wrong with that!

J-man: What about the combination of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish music works so well?

Ben: Good question, let’s analyze it! Pink Floyd, to me, is all about mystery and melancholy, there is a brilliant darkness in the subject matter lyrically and harmonically, Pink Floyd raises questions. Pink Floyd is highly introspective. It’s heavy and vast and every instrument has an amazing vocal quality. David Gilmour’s solo’s are like a perfectly seasoned meal. Take any notes away and it’s bland, add too much spice and it totally overpowers the meal. The Talking Heads are angular, oblique, they take everyday-human interactions and put a mirror to it. Then they hook you with their illusions, it’s auditory satire. Playing Talking Heads music, at least the guitar parts, are very sharp rhythmically, very jagged. Then there is Phish. I remember vividly when and where I was when I heard Junta for the first time. It was 1991, I was on a mini tour with my schools barber shop quartet, this girl in the grade above me, Michelle Stevens (Thank you Michelle) let me borrow her Junta cassette. I had never been more intrigued, inspired or amazed. Led Zeppelin was the catalyst to start my guitar playing, but Phish is the band that inspired me to be a musician. I saw them in 1992 at The Boston Garden and it blew my mind. To me, Phish is a pure celebration of creativity, there were no limits or parameters harmonically or rhythmically, no molds they were trying to fill, if anything they broke the mold-making factory and built a new one. Phish music is such a wide spectrum, and within that infinity they managed to find a way to make anything and everything they play their own. Spending 10k hours plus on group improvisation proves that Newton’s second law also applies to bands. So how do these fit together? Come and find out!

J-man: It looks like you'll be debuting PTF in Colroado. Why Colorado and what other dates do you have in the works?

Eric: One of my favorite people in Colorado is Jay Bianchi. He is a live music renegade! Jay is always there when one of us crazy musicians gets a hairbrained idea for a new project and wants a place to try it out. Sometimes it is amazing. Sometimes it falls flat. The important thing is that Jay gets it and has created a place that lives for the possibility of something amazing to happen. On top of that, the music lovers of Denver come out and support this renegade spirit because they get that, in Jay’s house, something new and fresh is happening and the love of music is alive. Every musician loves to perform for the Colorado music scene. Never am I more excited to play music than when I know that the Colorado spirit is in the air.

So last year, when this was all just an idea, I told Jay about the concept. He loved it and asked when we should book the show. He kept on me about it every time we touched base so I give Jay credit for helping me get this off the ground faster than expected. I love the fact that the debut weekend of the band involves a two night run at Quixotes True Blue. We are kicking off the tour in the mountains at Three 20 South in Breckenridge. This has always been one of my favorite mountain town stops. I know that the excitement level for the band is going to be high and I can’t wait to feel the Breck energy when we take that stage!

We’ve gotten a tremendous response from people around the country about this project and I look forward to bringing it to as many places as possible. The first weekend of October, we are playing in Boston at great venue called South Shore Music Hall. Ben Combe and I live in Massachusetts so this is a hometown show for us and we are pumped for it. We are also performing a special late night set at The Fall Down Music Festival in Connecticut. I love the late night energy and it is going to be a blast performing this music in that setting. The Fall Down Festival has incorporated tribute groups from both Talking Heads and Phish in the past so Pink Talking Fish is going to fit the theme of this fest in a great way.

J-man: Are you guys seeing any Phish this summer/fall?

Eric: I’ll be in Hartford.

Ben: I wish. I'm sure when they come back to my neck of the woods I'll be there.

J-man: What have you guys been listening to recently?

Ben: It’s safe to say that most of the music I listen to currently and actively is from 1967-1989. I like the oldies, what can I say? I think I was born twenty years late. Besides Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish (obviously), Yes is a big one for me. I love old school progressive rock, Led Zeppelin, Stereolab, Parliament Funkadelic, James Brown and so on and so on.

I guess I divide music up a little in my head, to me certain music has an appropriate time and place. Some I like because I like to sing them at full volume in rush hour traffic, The Tourist by Radiohead fits into that slot nicely. There is nothing like belting out “IDIOT SLOW DOWN, slow down” at a traffic light with your windows down... a classic Combe moment. Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and The Beatles are my favorites to sing with reckless abandon. Then there is my cerebral music, for the last two years I have been obsessed with Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Pat Martino and The Gateway Trio artists (Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland and John Abercrombie). For anyone that wants to hear some insane guitar work you can not go wrong with Gateway Trio How’s Never and Pat Martino’s albums, Consciousness and Baiyina. These guys continue to amaze me and have fascinated me since being exposed to them in college. Listen to Pat Martino’s early stuff for the burning gems (Israfel was the one that lured me into Pat Martino.) To me, Pat Martino is like the ‘Spock’ of jazz guitar. Sometimes I really enjoy silence.

On the lighter side, I like Sade, for my money it doesn’t get much better than when she sings "Smooth Operator" and "No Ordinary Love" and I celebrate them often in my Karaoke catalog. I also think that the use of The Carpenter’s song “We’ve Only Just Begun” in Stephen King’s 1408 was a brilliant way of turning something innocent into something twisted and evil. Now I kind of hear it more like a death metal song rather than a song about the tender love of early relationships. Speaking of relationship and love songs, if you asked me today what my favorite love song is I would not hesitate to say "I Only Have Eyes for You" by the Flamingo’s and we all know Flamingo’s are pink.

Eric: With a newly adopted toddler I’m listening to a lot of ridiculous children’s music but let’s not go there!

I’ve been really enjoying Dawes and Of Monsters And Men. There’s a great band in Boston called Caspian that I’ve been diggin’. I went and saw The Black Crowes, Tedeschi Trucks Band and London Souls play and loved all of them live. And, of course, in preparation for the upcoming shows I’ve been listening to a bunch of Pink Floyd, The Talking Heads & Phish!

J-man: Thanks, Gentleman! Looking forward to the Pink Talking Fish Colorado shows!


Pink Talking Fish Tour Dates:

-9.26.13 MusicMarauders Presents: Pink Talking Fish at Three20South in Breckenridge, CO

-9.27 & 9.28.13 MusicMarauders Presents: Two Nights of Pink Talking Fish at Quixote's True Blue in Denver, CO

-10.4.13 Pink Talking Fish at South Shore Music Hall in Quincy, MA

10.5.13 Pink Talking Fish at The Fall Down Festival in Durham, CT

Bill & Jilian Nershi 8.15.13

The Golden Hotel
Golden, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By J-man & Carly Marthis
Video By Erik Thoms

The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and the Clear Creek was flowing and full of tubers and kayakers! Out back of the Golden Hotel the stage was set for an evening with Bill and Jilian Nershi in front of the Rocky Mountains and Front Range foothills. As the set approached more and more concert goers and music fans turned out to be apart of what would inevitably be an intimate experience with flat picking champ and String Cheese Incident guitarist, Bill and his wife Jilian. Chris Thompson, who runs the Thursday Music Showcase in Golden, opened up the evening with his wife by his side on vocals. Rounding out the opening band was a gentleman on shakers and a gentleman on dobro, who seemed to struggle with his pedals throughout the show. Following their short opening set, the crowd took a breather an claimed their space for the evening's closers. With big smiles on their faces Bill and Jilian took the stage and began what would be one long set of music!

Through covers from musicians that they appreciate to String Cheese classics such as "Black Clouds," where Billy forgot the words, to bill solo performing "Dudley's Kitchen," the duo sounded great! The musical chemistry between the talented husband and wife reflected years of practice and a sense of pure enjoyment from performing the music that they love. The harmonies we're fantastic and the addition of their daughter Lauren further contributed to the depth and beauty of the music. One of the vocal highlights came in the form of "Dear Prudence" with proud mother Jilian matching pitches with Lauren who's nervousness faded as the performance waged on. At one point Chris came back on stage to tell folks about Bill and Jilian's new songbook and YarmonyGrass Music Festival, where Bill will be headlining with EOTO of all bands. I looked at Bill, laughed and shrugged triggering him to pick up the mic and claim to have written all EOTO songs to date, regardless of what Travis wants people to think. As the set wound down one of the overall highlights of the show cane in the form of Bill performing the Allman Brothers' classic Jessica... solo.

The sun set over the our beautiful surroundings, bats filled the sky and I was reminded why I moved to Colorado in the first place. It was events like the one we experienced that evening that help paint Colorado as the epicenter of live music in this vast country. Hoola hoops spun, the smell of (legal) marijuana filled the air and the sweet sounds of soaring vocals and incredible picking helped to close out what was another fantastic evening on the Front Range of Colorado. The icing on the cake was a "Colorado Bluebird Sky" to end the set. Following the show Bill stuck around to converse with fans, take some pictures and sign copies of his songbook. Following the show we made our way back up to the Bridgewater Grill for a drink and evening snack. Join the Golden community every Thursday for the free Clear Creek Concert Series!

J-man & Carly's Photo Gallery


Monday, August 19, 2013

MusicMarauders Presents: Two Nights of The New Mastersounds

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Join us on Friday August 23rd and Saturday August 24th for MusicMarauders Presents: The New Mastersounds at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver, CO! Liebermonster will open up the evening Friday and Analog Son feat. Members of Kinetix will open the evening on Saturday!

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm (event ends at 2:00 am)
$20 Advance / $25 Day Of Show

Purchase FRIDAY Tickets Here: www.ticketfly.com/purchase

Purchase SATURDAY Tickets Here: www.ticketfly.com/purchase



A Weekend With The Infamous Stringdusters 8.2 - 8.4.13

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot Photography)

What do you do when a planned event whether important or not, does not go exactly how you wanted it to? I am talking about something that has been talked about for months, discussed for hours, and even causes a debate about just how awesome it really is from time to time. What am I speaking of you may ask? Well, in my life there are few things that are as special as a weekend spent with The String Cheese Incident in their home away from home, Horning’s Hideout, Oregon. Unfortunately, this year I was not able to financially make the trip work, so I watched as packs of my Cheese Phamily/Friends prepared for the journey and take off down that Cheesy Road. So what to do now? Well, to save the day the amazing state in which I now live in (Colorado) was able to entice one of my absolute favorite bands to come down our way and grace us with their musical brilliance. Not only did they save the day, but also I am pretty god damn sure what I witnessed over those three days was some of the truly best live music I have seen in a very long time.

Who am I speaking of you ask? What band is so brilliant and so uberally-talented that they would make me forget my Cheesy sorrows and just get ready to have one of the best recent musical weekends in memory? This band is just not your typical bluegrass outfit and they for sure don’t play your typical, sometimes twangy, bluegrass tunes. I have written, gawked, and sworn that these guys could not impress me anymore than they already have, but each time I see them live it is truly unlike any five-piece group I have ever seen. Andy Hall, Andy Falco, Chris Pandolfi, Travis Book, and Jeremy Garrett make up one of the most exciting, unique, and downright fucking awesome musical groups that I have ever seen and many of my older Scene-mates will concur. The Infamous Stringdusters not only play bluegrass music, but also they play it to a level of truly unmatched caliber and I legitimately mean that. When attending one of their shows you are not only given the opportunity to hear some amazing picking, but the playful interaction between the five band members and outright exuberance showing on their faces is something you really never see in music these days. My recent journey on this dusty jam-grass filled road started at the beautiful State Bridge Amphitheater in Bond, Colorado. And what a journey it was.

State Bridge
Bond, CO

This was my first time seeing a show at State Bridge. I attended YarmonyGrass a few years prior, but the festival was held up the road at Rancho Del Rio. Arriving to a packed house of smelly wook’s and Colorado music loving freaks is always a good sign and from the looks of how ready people were to rage this was going to be an awesome weekend. Located directly across from the Colorado River, the State Bridge live music experience is truly one not to be missed whenever the chance arises. The venue, now rebuilt after previously burning down, is beautiful and feels like it was meant to be there all along. Incorporating the natural beauty of Colorado, the close proximity to the river (and the Amtrak train-tracks), and having some of the best star-gazing sky you will ever see are just some of the highlights of seeing a show at State Bridge. For me personally, seeing one of the best bands going right now only made the trip more worth the weekend endeavor and just solidified how much I love our Colorado music scene. This particular Stringdusters run was part of their American River’s Tour, which was a specially planned collaboration with the nation’s leading river conservation organization, American Rivers – currently celebrating its 40th anniversary – to raise money and awareness for protecting and restoring rivers and clean water nationwide. Making this State Bridge run even more special was the fact that the Colorado River was just named the most Endangered river according to the American Rivers Foundation, so all the more love for the Stringdusters doing their part in helping our great state of Colorado and it’s incredible natural beauty.

Night one at State Bridge was full of Duster classics and some pure Andy Falco genius-ness. Songs such as "There Ain’t No Way of Knowing," "Echoes of Goodbye," and "Like I Do" pleased the bluegrass-loving crowd and showed off some of the incredible musical elements that the Dusters are becoming known for. Jeremy Garrett is an absolute monster on the fiddle and in my opinion could be (with Jason Carter from the McCoury’s) the most talented fiddle player I have been lucky enough to see play. Garrett comes off as a very soulful and intelligent individual as his hipster looks and brightly colored shirts seem to blend in perfectly with his four other band mates. Garrett possesses the most powerful voice in the group as well (Book’s is deeper, but more soothing) and his vocal prowess was put on full display during Echoes of Goodbye. I love this song, and especially the way in which Jeremy belts out each verse with more passion than the previous. Watching him dip and dive with that fiddle bow in hand is entertaining enough, but throw in the fact that he is fucking amazing on that little hollow-bodied wooden device and that he has the voice of a southern soul singer makes it even more fun to witness.

"17 Cents," "Don’t Think Twice," "It’s Alright," and an insane dedication to two newly engaged friends in the crowd were thrown in the first set with such force that the musical beauty was almost too much to handle. Mr. Andy Falco provided vocals for "Don’t Think Twice" and "It’s Alright," which just about made every woman in the audience fall to their knees as if his guitar skills weren’t enough. The man is a musical machine and the precise timing of each guitar pick or strum is so perfect it would make Billy Nershi cry in appreciation. A well-timed and definitely well-received Police cover of "Walking on the Moon" was a definite highlight and once again proved that these jam-grass playing gentlemen could play pretty much anything if they set their mind to it. As night one wore on, the Infamous Stringdusters continually blew the minds of each person in attendance. It was becoming quite obvious that this weekend was not going to be just a typical trip in many more ways than one. Not only was I surrounded by hundreds of die-hard Duster fans, but also most of the people attending the State Bridge shows were just ready to rage at all costs. This created a very fun, yet rowdy crowd that if you weren’t careful could distract you during the show due to the excess noise and horseplay. But with pieces such as "The Hitchhiker" the Dusters were able to capture that sense of ready to rage energy and put on a clinic of musical epic-ness.

One of their most known songs, "The Hitchhiker," provides a platform for the Infamous Stringdusters to just throw down and show us what they are really made of. Whether it was Jeremy Garrett destroying the fiddle, or Andy Hall furiously ripping that dobro of his, it was all epic in my opinion. The Danny Barnes dance-fest "Get It While You Can" was perfectly placed after hiker and Travis Book used his deep, soothing, and country-ish voice to shake the trees surrounding the State Bridge Amphitheater. With the crowd joining in for a full blown sing-a-long, Book led us jam-grass loving hippies with a smile as big as the Colorado River itself and no matter how much you had drank or smoked already that day your feet were moving as much as physically possible. Having lost the great songwriter JJ Cale earlier in the week the Dusters took part in the jamband scene tribute to the late Cale with a sandwich of the Del McCoury song "Traveling Tear Drop Blues" with the Cale classic "After Midnight." Putting the Cale song in the middle of such a heartfelt and beautiful ballad just felt right and Chris Pandolfi on the banjo was in fine form for this combination. Pandolfi is a banjo-picking wizard and his goofy smile/on-stage personality only play more into the awesome musician he is. He really shined during this section of the show, as he and Andy Hall were able to trade back and forth licks between the banjo and dobro with noteworthy intensity. Additional night one highlights included Andy Falco teasing "Shakedown Street" throughout the night, "Get on Down the Road" had some downright filthy Pandolfi banjo playing combined with some absolutely disgusting dobro-ing from Mr. Hall and The Band’s classic "Cripple Creek" threw the crowd into a frenzy!

As the band exited the stage and all of us hippies filed out of the State Bridge Amphitheater in anticipation of night two, only pure excitement and joy could be felt. There was not an upset, angry, or disappointed person in sight as the Dusters had truly blown people's minds with their jam-grass perfection. So how in the hell would they back up this performance? Well, starting off with "In God’s Country" for night two isn’t a bad way to try and upstage night one as Andy Hall and his dobro played each note with such beauty. Other than Anders Beck from Greensky Bluegrass, Andy Hall is the most impressive dobro player I have ever laid eyes on, and I would be inclined to say that he is, along with Beck, leading the charge to take over Jerry Douglas’ throne atop the world dobro rankings (If there is such a thing). "Well, Well," "Night on the River," and a new Andy Falco song "If I Had a Block of Wood" made their respective ways into the first set of night two and all featured Mr. Falco taking the lead and seamlessly conducting the group through a variety of chord changes and tempo progressions. The bluegrass staple and John Hartford classic, "Steam Powered Aeroeplane," was sung by Travis and featured all five members of the group with small solos throughout. Song after song it was evident that the Duster boys had not decided to take it easy for night two and I was pretty sure that Jeremy Garrett was going to break his fiddle in half at one point during the set.

With set one in the books and the last set of the State Bridge weekend coming up it only seemed right that the crowd stepped it up a notch party-wise and started drinking and smoking anything they could their wook-ish hands on. The energy level sky-rocketed in anticipation for the second set and the Infamous Stringdusters seemed to join the rage-fest from the get go as they embarked on what would become an hour and fifty-one minute long second set/encore. Yes, you read that correctly, one hour and fifty one minutes of pure jam-grass epicness with each member of the Dusters taking the lead from one song to the next. I am not joking when I say this, nor do I say this very often, but this second set could be one of the absolute best sets of music I have ever heard. Beginning with the beautiful Andy Hall sung ballad "Tears of the Earth," set two was out to a great start. Hall has a twangy and very unique vocal style, which perfectly blends in with his dobro sound and provides a great foundation for any bluegrass number. One of my personal favorite Duster tunes "I’ll Get Away," which prominently features fiddle player Jeremy Garrett on lead vocals, was more beautiful than usual with the State Bridge vibe now in full force.

"All the Same," "My Destination," and "Lovin You," which are all Duster songs, made their way into the second set and each let a different member of the band take their turn at lead vocals. Whether it was Jeremy Garrett, Travis Book, or Andy Hall belting out the lyrics to the respective song, they each have a beautiful and unique voice which plays perfectly into the way the Dusters do things. They are a group of five insanely talented individuals who have come together for the common good of us all and decided to make music together for hopefully a good while to come. What comes next is hard to put into words... for a tribute to the father of jambands Mr. Jerry Garcia and his August 1st day of birth, the Dusters decided to do a run of Grateful Dead/Jerry songs that would make any DeadHead proud. The songs included "Deep Elem Blues" > "Let It Go" > "He’s Gone" > "I Know You Rider" > "Jack-a-Roe." This run of songs was pure bliss in my opinion. The vocal harmonizing during "Let It Go" brought the crowd to a silent halt as the five voices combined to make one of the best versions of that song truly come to life. It was awesome to see the Duster boys take songs that so many people know, love, and appreciate while putting their own spin on it and doing it their way. It was an amazing sight to witness, and I am sure that Mr. Garcia was smiling down upon us dancing hippies while his famous lyrics rang up to the insane amount of stars above.

As the Infamous Stringdusters treated us to a "Keep on Truckin" in their double encore it was hard to imagine wanting to be anywhere else in the world at that moment. Yes, I missed Cheese and all of the glory of Horning’s Hideout, but what I was able to witness and enjoy from the Dusters over those two days at State Bridge were seriously mind-blowing. Andy Falco is an absolute flat-picking guitar genius whose good looks and hipster vests only add to the aura of fucking awesome which he possesses. Andy Hall always has an intense look of musical ferocity on his face, but watching him move around stage in unison with his partners is a thing of beauty. Mr. Chris Pandolfi on the banjo (now a resident of our great state) is a wizard when it comes to laying down the picking line, and his goofy way of smiling throughout the weekend was contagious for all. Travis Book and his beefy bass provide a soothing and safe feeling, while it seems that he wouldn’t mind putting down a beer or two on the best of days. Lastly Jeremy Garrett, or as I say the soul of the Dusters, is absolutely incredible on the fiddle and has a voice to match. There can never be too much soul in a band, and Garrett definitely brings it on heavy with each song he takes the lead for. Really, is there anything wrong with this band?

I am ready to roll and head out on Duster tour. I am sold on this band, 100%. For a band to take my mind off the despair of missing the magic of Horning’s Hideout is a tough thing to do, and the Dusters not only made me not miss being at Cheese, but they made me forget about it completely. The Infamous Stringdusters are one of the most talented quintets on the scene right now, and I promise they will be here to stay. Do not miss them at Cervantes on September 13th as it will be one hell of a journey.

Bellvue, CO

Did I really need to go see the Infamous Stringdusters for a third night in a row? Was seeing them at the legendary Mishawaka Amphitheater on the Poudre River really worth the four hour drive from State Bridge? The answers to both of those questions are a resounding and extremely warranted "Fuck Yes." There are not many bands that are worth the time and effort for such an endeavor, but the Dusters are one of them. Also, I had not been to the Mish since the Poudre Canyon fire the year before so the experience would be more of a welcoming back for a lot of us music loving Colorado hippies. Other than State Bridge, the Mish is one of the more scenic music venues you will ever attend a show at and the Dusters definitely brought the heat for their early-Sunday show. "Colorado," "Masquerade," and "Tears of the Earth" were three highlights of the first set as the Dusters seemed to be truly enjoying the calmness and joy of this Sunday show. "Colorado" received a long ovation for its lyrics describing everything that seems to be amazing about our state. The Phish song "Free" was covered with a well received sing-a-long as the Mish crowd seemed to really appreciate the Dusters digging deep into their catalog. "Like I Do" closed out the first set with a rocking Jeremy Garrett fiddle solo that almost buckled my knees with the amount of notes and intense tone changes he utilized.

"Night on the River" opened the second set and seemed to fit perfectly with the Mish now having re-opened the river section of the venue to much delight from its paying patrons. The Dusters seemed to not miss a beat on night three of this American River Tour and the last two nights up at State Bridge didn’t seem to have left them too tired to rock it the fuck out. "I’ll Get Away," the Grateful Dead classic "Let It Grow," and "Uncle Pen" got the Fort Collins crowd rocking and rolling with varying solos coming from Andy Falco on one side and Andy Hall on the other. "Walking on the Moon," another cover (by Police), provided Travis with a vocal platform and let him mesmerize all of those in attendance. I couldn’t help but be continually impressed with each performance the Dusters gave. Even though they were playing some of the same songs from the epicness of State Bridge, it felt as if a new spin was being put on them. With Pandolfi and Andy Hall leading the way for most of the night, the Dusters charged through their second set with a Sunday night ferocity that is very uncommon for traditional bluegrass bands. Sunday’s are known for being a slow and calm evening, but with the Dusters that was the complete opposite of what took place.

Never miss a Sunday show... ever. That is a motto I abide by after missing a few earlier on in my musical event-attending career and thankfully I still adhere to this rule to this day. This Mishawaka Sunday Dusters show was just a pure continuation of the rage and party that was seen at State Bridge the two nights prior. This band just doesn’t stop and the fans seemed to not want to stop either. The Mish was a perfect place to end the Colorado portion of this American River Tour, and what a night it really was. Song after song the Dusters killed it, and pieces such as "Jack-A-Roe" and "Ain’t No Way of Knowing" really got the crowd into it and showed us the skill and talent the Dusters hold within them. I did not want the music to stop, but when it finally did and the three-night run was concluded there were so many good memories it was hard to remember them all. From good friends, to great camping, to some of the seriously best live music I have seen in a very long time the Infamous Stringdusters and their American River Tour are always welcome back to our great state of Colorado. Whether it is at State Bridge, the Mish, or Cervantes in September, the Dusters are a band that no one should miss and everyone needs to see.

"You don’t know where you’re going, and you don’t know where to go." These lyrics stayed with me throughout the weekend, as I really do think at the moment I did know where I was going. I was going to two of the most epic music venues known to man to see one of the most talented and exciting bands going today. As well, was going to hang out with one of my best buddies and enjoy what Colorado had to offer. What a weekend, what a trip, and what a journey. Just make sure to take a chance and let it go...

Kevin's Photo Gallery


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Yonder Mountain String Band 8.10.13

Red Rocks Amphitheater
Morrison, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

We arrived at Rock and Roll Mecca (Red Rocks) in time to catch The Devil Makes Three, and I was pleasantly surprised with the band's style and songwriting. The trio took the stage and the front man Pete Bernhard reminded me of Daniel Tosh with Anderson Cooper's hair and Billie Joe Armstrong's wardrobe. Immediately bassist Lucia Turino took the role of driving the tunes while Bernhard and banjo/guitarist Cooper McBean provided the ornamentation. Traditional bluegrass has never been my cup of tea, though I do like "newgrass" quite a bit. Devil Makes Three wasn't exactly "newgrass" per say, but they had the variety I required. Their blend of punk sensibilities with Americana/traditional/bluegrass foundations made for a very entertaining band to listen to. I was pleasantly surprised by their odes to whiskey and love. They were an apt opener for Yonder Mountain String Band, without a doubt.

Set One: New Horizons > Goodbye Blue Sky > Northern Song > New Horizons, Straight Line,
All the Time, Don't Worry Happy Birthday, Mother's Only Son, On the Run > Too Late Now > Dear Prudence > On the Run

Set Two: Honestly > Casualty > Fine Excuses > Honestly, Rag Doll *, Funtime *, Pass this Way, Lay it on the Line, Another Day, Damned if the Right One, Peace of Mind > Angel > Riverside > Angel > Peace of Mind

Encore: brief Wonderful Tonight tease, Southbound, Rambler's Anthem, Town, What the Night Brings

*w/ Danny Barnes

As we waited patiently for Yonder to emerge on stage, the fog machines came to life, and we knew it was almost "go time." Shortly before 9:00 PM, the foursome took the stage to an adoring mass of fans. The smile on Jeff Austin's face said that no matter how many times he's played Red Rocks, it's always a joy, honor, and privilege. As the band fired up the engines, I was once again amazed by the way their rhythm was carried without a drummer. It was remarkable watching the role of percussionist move around the band as each new person took a solo.

Ben Kaufmann. There was always something about this guy that made me really like him. Charismatic, genuine, and friendly, Ben's demeanor has always shined through his songwriting, playing and singing. He was, in my opinion, the best singer in the band, and at the heart of every great song they played was the rock solid low end of Kaufmann's bass. If there was a pocket, he was in it like a thief in Paris. If it weren't for Ben, I'm not sure I would have become such a fan of YMSB.

Dave Johnson's best skill has always been in the percussive department. His soloing has always sounded slightly garbled to me. Not as clean or concise as the rest of the band when it came to taking the spotlight. Saturday night featured Dave soloing quite a bit, and while he seemed to be a little more dialed in than usual, he still sounded a little wobbly. In a band like Yonder, the picking is so rapid that even a microsecond of missed timing is noticeable. Johnson was on time, but there's a difference between being on time, and being comfortably on time. While the other members seemed to have complete mastery over their instruments, Dave was proficient, but lacked that confidence that comes with mastery. But, let's face it, it had to be tough trying to keep up with Jeff Austin.

Jeff Austin's maniacal mandolin playing has played a humongous role in Yonder's successes. He attacked the mandolin Saturday night just as he always has. The notes flew like a machine gun wielded by a 110 pound gymnast, wildly spraying in a way that was progressive and erratic in the same moment. Jeff always reminded me of a cowboy desperately holding on to the bucking bull... his mandolin. Yet somehow he rode the bull for three hours and manipulated it every step of the way. That's about how I'd describe most of Jeff's playing, and while the talent was still very much there, this Red Rocks performance seemed to be a little less about Jeff, and a little more about everyone else. It was refreshing to see Jeff sit back a little.

Adam Aijala was the standout Saturday. Countless times I found myself shaken from a daze by Double A's sweet pickin'. With a style that was clean, technical, inspired, and rich in tone, Adam dropped in riffs that were tasty, classy, and well placed. Throughout the night I kept coming back to Adam as my focus. His tone was clear as a bell, and his choices were unpredictable and well-executed. It was truly a pleasure to listen to him play.

There were a few reasons that Yonder captured my attention many years ago. Their songwriting ranged from beautiful to thrilling, often simultaneously, as they told tales of love, revenge, car chases, and drinking. Second, Jeff Austin's playing has been both exhilarating, and baffling to watch on more than one occasion. His style sounded so reckless and frantic, yet usually seemed to take the songs "off road," with such an adventurous spirit, cutting a concise line through the unknown. His playing has also been vivid, spawning mental images of canyons, rivers, snowfall, and mountain roads. But perhaps the biggest reason I've continued to listen was the way they took bluegrass outside of the confines of any traditional sense. They've maintained the instrumentation, and largely the sound, but they have applied those techniques to a myriad of songs outside the genre. They've also taken some of the aspects of those other genres and added them to their bluegrass sound. The result has been a pleasure to experience... and still is. Oh, and they'll be back for New Year's Eve in Boulder... in case having fun suits you.

Brad's Photo Gallery


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Week With Family Funktion & The Sitar Jams On Their Colorado Tour

Words By J-man
Photos By J-man & Carly Marthis
Audio By Naryan Padmanabha

The Jeep flew towards the Denver airport at a high rate of speed on Monday morning. Aneal Padmanabha sat in the passenger seat, communicating with his brothers Naryan and Ravi Padmanabha on the progress of collecting their bags. The Motet's Herbie Hancock tribute seeped out of the open doors of the car that sat idle in passenger pick up. Once the passengers were secured and loaded up, it was back to Denver to acclimate before the opening night of Sitar Jams' Colorado Tour! It had been a handful of years since our paths first crossed in Upstate, New York and here we were, half way across the country in Denver, CO, ready for yet another adventure together! A lot of planning, correspondence, time and energy went into putting the six day run of dates together and here we were staring down the barrel of the band's second Colorado tour that would take us from the Front Range up into the mountains and back!

8.5.13 Quixote's True Blue- Denver, CO:

Family Funktion and The Sitar Jams Live at Quixote's True Blue on August 5, 2013.

Following an easy first load-in and soundcheck at the edge of Denver's Capital Hill neighborhood, the band hit the stage and began slowly, warming up the room as folks looked on curiously. The first set offered some fantastic space as well as a gem in the form of "Where's Sancho," a song named after Jay Bianchi's Sancho's Broken Arrow, a venue that the band enjoyed on their first tour of Colorado. Following their first set, Joey Porter's Vital Organ took the stage in the front room for a crowd that continued to grow in number. Vital Organ's Monday Residency has become a staple in Denver and on that evening they would welcome some very special guests! Sitar Jams' second set of the night began with an elevated level of energy and a few more faces in attendance from the other room. The highlights of the set included "Shanghai Tourbus" and "Rajastani Rumble" which immediately became a personal favorite! The overall show highlight came in the form of "Jerry" into "Fire on the Mountain" into "Jerry," which teased the Grateful Dead classic while paying homage to Jerry Garcia. As their second set ended, Vital Organ closed out the evening with special guests that included Nigel Hall and Jesus Coomes of Lettuce. It was a solid start to our Colorado Tour.

Full Concert Video From Quixote's True Blue

Photo Gallery From Quixote's True Blue

8.6.13 Shakedown Bar- Vail, CO:

Family Funktion and The Sitar Jams Live at Shakedown Bar on August 6, 2013.

The two car caravan that made up Sitar Jams' crew (The band, my girlfriend Carly, and I) headed up I-70 from Denver through the Eisenhower Tunnel over the lower portion of the Loveland pass to Vail, CO. Our early arrival was welcomed by a heavy rain that put a damper on options. We sought shelter in a small pizza joint in the Vail Village before heading to East Vail to settle into our condo. Load-in began around 7:30 PM and not long after the band was up and playing, kicking the evening off with "Eastern Step," a song that I had the pleasure of naming. That night was our first time at Shakedown Bar and man, did we dig the room. A handful of folks turned out to hear a Sitar in their mountain town and got down to the grooves of the trio of brothers. In addition to highlights that included "Rajastani Rumble," "ABC" and The Meters' "Sissy Strut," the band treated the crowd to two new songs, "Where's Shankar?" and "The Orator," though no one in the crowd would have noticed. That night Aneal really impressed me on the bass tapping into some crazy mind-bending effects and ripping tonal work. The evening peaked around twenty folks and as Sitar Jams loaded out, the crowd loaded in for Vail favorite, Brother's Keeper. Following a stroll through the quiet streets of the Vail Village and a latenight bite, we returned to a packed house as Brother's Keeper ripped through covers that included several great Allman Brothers tunes and more. The crowd was digging it and with a little bit later set, they may have dug Sitar Jams as well. We really enjoyed our time in Vail and that night returned to the condo for some over the top Christian programming.

Full Concert Video From Shakedown Bar

Photo Gallery From Shakedown Bar

8.7.13 Hodi's Half Note- Fort Collins, CO:

Family Funktion and The Sitar Jams Live at Hodi's Half Note on August 7, 2013.

We arrived in Fort Collins, at the north of the Front Range, to a town that was active with people and live music. We grabbed a bite to eat at a local burger joint before strolling around the small downtown area and returning to the venue. Outside of Hodi's, Loveland locals Genetics were loading in. The bands hit it off right away laughing and sharing in mutual appreciation for the other's group. During Genetics soundcheck, Ravi said to me "that drummer is good," to which I replied "which is funny because the band's actual drummer is standing right there," pointing behind Ravi. Jeff Ervine (guitarist) sat behind the kit tearing it up. Out front of the venue folks wandered by, knowing not what they were about to miss. Sitar Jams began to a near empty room, kicking off with "Jack D." a tribute to drummer Jack Dejohnette. A few songs into their set they launched into an electronic jam with Ravi on tablas. The space was extensive and the grooves deep as Genetics looked on in amazement. Additional highlights of the set included "Nordique Man," "Raga Room 1" into "Raga Room 2" and another first time played "Kaoss" into "Rajastani Rumble" into "Hookah Daze" into "Rajastani Rumble" to close the set. Genetics followed with Jeff switching between each instrument on stage and the rest of the band digging deep into improvisational jams for an empty room. The evening would have been a complete wash if not for Jedediah Liddell (Lovemore Creations)turning out to do a photo shoot for Sitar Jams. Out back of Hodi's both bands thanked one and other and discussed future options before heading their separate ways.

Full Concert Video From Hodi's Half Note

Photo Gallery From Hodi's Half Note

8.8.13 Whistler's Cafe- Nederland, CO (#MagicPotatoes):

Up the Boulder Canyon we went towards a town in which we had never been to. We had heard rumors of the beautiful mountain town of Nederland and driving down past the Barker Reservoir it was clear that the stories were true. We parked our car out front of the quaint and funky Whister's Cafe and made our way over to the rock shop for some crystals before wandering around town. We were shocked to stumble upon Kathmandu Restaurant, a sizable Indian joint that seemed perfect for our pre-show meal. We joked about the band playing three sets and taking risks with songs that they would never actually consider. Another massive storm rolled through the mountains dropping bolts of lightning and echoing thunder that bounced between the peaks, around the valley and through the town. After waiting out the storm, we began loading in at Whistler's Cafe. The staff was extremely friendly, helpful and genuinely excited to have us. The set began to a decent crowd that was up and dancing almost as soon as the music began.It was clear that Nederland appreciated good music. Approximately forty five minutes into the set, Naryan broke a string on his sitar, something that almost never happens. The band took a short break so that the string could be replaced and the room cleared out. About fifteen minutes later the band returned to the stage and an empty room. We began to think this could be their Spinal Tap moment when all of a sudden folks from the other bar in town turned out upon hearing rumblings of a Sitar in town. As well, everyone who was outside consuming marijuana (legally) piled back into the venue to dance carelessly to the sounds of the Trio.

With another setbreak in the bag, it seemed our jokes about a three set evening were coming true. Sitar Jams began their third set with with an electronic tabla jam that captivated the room and as the evening grew later, intoxicated folks danced harder and harder. The show concluded and new fans made their way towards the stage to thank the band and find out more about their instruments and backgrounds. With the venue cleared out, the staff expressed wanting to make sure that they paid us fairly considering it was a rainy Thursday. The amount that Sitar Jams was compensated reflected an absolute kindness on the part of the bar. The bartenders hugged us, thanked us for coming out, extended an open invite and gave us some Coca Colas to go for our trip back down the mountain. It was exactly the sort of evening the band needed and as we passed through Boulder back to Denver, we smiled and reflected on the best night of the tour up to that point. Due to the venue's lack of a sound system, the trio was forced to use all of their gear to output the evening's sound, in turn sacrificing the typical show recording. The show would come to be know as "#Magicpotatoes."

Full Concert Video From Whistler's Cafe

Photo Gallery From Whistler's Cafe

8.9.13 Three20South- Breckenridge, CO:

Family Funktion and The Sitar Jams Live at Three20South on August 9, 2013.

Incense were burning at the front of the stage at Three20South as Sitar Jams fired up. The crowd was somewhat limited, but attentive as Naryan dug into some wild effects on the Sitar. The gentleman running the soundboard repeatedly expressed how interesting and unique the project was as talent buyer, Rocko ran the lights with visual precision. Highlights of the extended opening set included a spacey improv jam that went into "FFSJ," "Shanghai Tourbus," "ABC" and the drum jam during "Rajastani Rumble." Members of Springdale Quartet watched with a look of excitement on their faces. Ravi stole the show that night with intense drum work that was both fluid and tight. With the conclusion of Sitar Jams' opening set, Springdale took the stage and began with a more refined rock sound that what I had previously heard the band output. As the evening unfolded the band dug into funky and almost jazzy material that reflected not only a lot of talent, but a lot of passion. On the ride back down to our hotel in Dillon we listened to Springdale Quartet's new album Heist and were very impressed by what we heard. Back at the hotel, we had the latenight front desk clerk re-open the hot tub for us. A Tupperware container of cookies floated as we relaxed following our second to last gig of the tour.

Full Concert Video From Three20South

Photo Gallery From Three20South

8.10.13 Armoury- Denver, CO:

Family Funktion and The Sitar Jams Live at Armory on August 10, 2013.

Following a mountain hike in Breckenridge, the band made their way back to Denver for some rest before the final show of their tour. We were all beat and in need of a good sleep. That night we loaded in at 21st and Larimer in Denver's Ballpark District. The band was impressed with the venue and setup and as the 10:00 PM hour came and went, the band began their first of three sets as a trio. Highlights of the first set included "Where's Sancho" and "Eastern Step." Their second set welcomed Faisal Salahuddin on the Balafon and Djembe. The opening jam blew my mind. The sound was a colliding of Indian and West African cultures that worked so perfectly. I have been to a lot of Sitar Jams shows, I have listened to all of their recorded material as well as all of their live shows from the Internet Archive and I had never heard anything like what I was heard that night. There really were no clear highlights from the second set as it was all brand new to me and captivating from start to finish. As the third set began the room was as full as it had been all night with overflow traffic from other shows in town. The final set of the Colorado tour was upon us and it was loose. You could tell that everyone was having a good time and rightfully so. Following three hugely diverse sets from a band with whom I had toured with for an entire week, I had concluded that the final evening's show was my favorite.

Full Concert Video From Armoury

Photo Gallery From Armoury

As we loaded out of the venue at 2:00 AM, the band invited Faisal to record on their upcoming album. That moment was the icing on the cake for what was a fantastic show. That evening Carly's mom came out to Armoury and while we were loading out, Carly and her mom went to the grocery store to pick up a bunch of fruit and salad items. And while we would down from the tour we were served a fantastic meal that was rounded off by a couple of pizzas. The next morning our hangovers were limited. Aneal departed first by vehicle for the long drive back to Buffalo, NY and a short time later I drove Ravi and Naryan back to the airport. As I dropped them off we discussed the possibility of Carly and I swinging out their way, the option of next year and a future winter run, once their kiddos have grown up a bit. The next evening I sat on my couch recovering when I realized that night was the first in a week that I had not seen Sitar Jams and I was going through Sitar Jams withdrawals...


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Telluride Jazz Festival 8.2 – 8.4.13

Town Park Stage
Telluride, Colorado

Words & Photos by Nicholas Stock

Few places in this great state are as picturesque and stunning as Telluride. This quaint mountain town is the cultural mecca of the southwestern region of Colorado and plays host to several music and film festivals throughout the year. Telluride Jazz Festival is perhaps the most reserved and underrepresented of all of their events, but this year featured an all-star lineup at the famed Town Park Stage. It is the 37th year for Telluride Jazz, and it has been the host to some of the most renowned musicians in the genre. Galactic, John Scofield, Stanley Clarke, and Dr. Lonnie Smith were all headlining; meaning this weekend in Telluride was sure to be one for the books.

My wife and I drove through the night to reach our destination. There was a massive storm percolating over the San Juan Range, which could be seen as far away as Glenwood Springs. Lighting flashed in the distance as we rode over seven hours to Telluride from the Front Range. The one downside is just how far Telluride is from Denver. It’s a trek, but one that is very much worth the trip. As we made our way past Montrose we hit the eye of the storm. Torrential downpour threatened to wash out the road as we finally hit the highway that would take us down valley and into town. We set our tent up in the rain and darkness and quickly went to bed. With three days of music and camping ahead of us, it was time for rest.

We awoke to a beautiful blue sky on Friday morning. For those that have never been, Town Park where the venue is located is actually a campground. This meant we were a mere three hundred yards from the entrance to the festival grounds. The weather all weekend alternated between absolutely perfect to downright drizzly. The music began around 1 PM on Friday with 2013 Band Contest Winners, New Sound Underground. These young men had an explosively funky sound. The entire band biked from Minnesota to Telluride. It took around 30 days. With songs like “Natural High” and “Our Thing” it was obvious why these guys rose to the top to win their place at the festival. New Sound Underground put on a great set and it was a solid beginning to this one-of-a-kind festival.

We watched the Telluride Allstars Leaders and Alumni Quintet next on the Town Park Stage. This band had an incredibly dynamic ability just play together. Made up of alumni of Telluride’s all-star program, and lead by Bob Montgomery on trumpet as well as Josh Quinlan on saxophone. Together they direct the program and spread the joy of music. Their set had a super laid back sensibility, but with a solid intensity. They ranged from tightly performed jazzy jams to all out Latin detonations. They were impressive musicians.

Nigel Hall has long been known for his work with Royal Family Records. He is currently recording with Chapter 2 as well. His set took on an almost gospel feel as he blended jazz, funk, R&B, and more. They played for just under ninety minutes during which we got a little bit of rain. It was hardly enough to dampen anyone’s spirits. Front Range favorites The Motet, lead by Dave Watts, took the stage next. They have a sleeker lineup with Jans Ingber on percussion and vocals. With a performance of “Shake Your Booty” the crowd was in sync. They sun began to drift down the valley basking the canyon walls in a beautiful Alpenglow light. The Motet continues to be one of the most versatile bands playing in Colorado. They can pretty much play anything on cue and have spent the last two summers bouncing around the festival circuit. Their set at Telluride was truly spectacular. They invited Nigel Hall back up to the stage to sing on their closing tune.

The John Scofield Uberjam Band closed out Friday night in high musical fashion. This super group is comprised of Scofield on guitar, Adam Deitch on drums, Andy Hess on bass, and Avi Bortnick on guitar and samples. This is an insane collection of talent and their set at Telluride was flawless. Instead of sticking to their straight funk and groove sound they are known for from their first album, they pushed it up a notch utilizing samples and some far out sounds. They performed songs new and old including “Every Night is Ladies Night” and “I Brake 4 Monster Booty.” They recently released a second album, which was the impetus for an extended tour. This group defies genre by simply playing together and riffing off of each other. This was straight avant-garde jazz at it’s finest. At times they included some electronic sampling that was a little off putting, but overall they played an incredible set of music. As Uberjam finished up we walked the short distance back to our camp and called it an early night.

On Saturday Morning I opted out of the first couple bands and made my way via gondola up to the disc golf course. They have recently expanded the course to eighteen holes and it was a lot of fun. We made it to the Town Park Stage for the Doug Lawrence Organic Trio. The word “organic” defines this group nicely. They incorporated some soaring sax work from Lawrence and focused on some swing-heavy jazz. Musically they were intrepid and impressive. They truly created full sound, which might not be expected from a three-piece group.

Latin Jazz extraordinaires, Son Como Son, were on the stage next. This eclectic group featured some of the most dance-centric music of the entire weekend. Hailing from New Mexico, this salsa band has the ability to play a wide range of Latin music. From bolero to the cha-cha, Son Como Con lead by Cesar Bauvallet is a nonstop musical powerhouse. This elevated, energetic Latin experience was yet another highlight from this amazing weekend in Telluride. During their set the festival featured a very popular wine tasting for all of the attendees.

Up next was fan favorite Meshell Ndegeocello. Her sultry voice played a little bit more down key for the audience, but she was definitely a sight to behold. She is a ten-time Grammy nominee, making her one of the most celebrated acts to perform all weekend. She defies categorization by playing off of a wide range of styles and sounds. Her set at Telluride was a gentle trip with an almost minimalist approach, accentuated by impeccable vocals. Meshell’s set was delicately beautiful. It was another chance to witness some serious talent that many, including myself, have not had the pleasure of seeing live. She and her band played an awesome version of The Animals’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”

The festival headliner Dr. Lonnie Smith had been getting rave reviews all day from his set the previous night at the Sheridan Opera House. He only played for about an hour, but people were talking about it all day. As he took the stage on Saturday night it was obvious why. This man is a monster on the organ and he has enough tools and tricks to suck in even the most jaded of music fans. His set was a bit delayed due to some technical issues, however he was finally underway around 6:45 PM. The crowd seemed to squeeze in a bit as the Dr. got going. His music was hypnotic, sucking you into a trance like state. This was intense music ranging from straight up funk to all out acid jazz; His set was fire.

Co-headlining the night was Mr. Stanley Clarke and his bass. He is widely renowned for his work, which again seems to defy genre. He is perhaps best known for his project with Chick Corea, but he is truly established in his own right. He has done it all from film and television work to actually inventing two instruments. His set in Telluride was one of the best we saw all weekend. His show went a bit late pushing back all of the Jazz After Dark festivities along with it.

I trekked up the gentle slope to the Sheridan Opera House to see the New Orleans Suspects play a long set of music in this historic room. This group is like taking all of the greatness of the music of New Orleans and juicing it down into a single serving. The band is made up of members of The Neville Brothers, The Radiators, and Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Does it get any more NOLA than that? They got the crowd moving by playing a massive “Food For Thought.” I hung out for a while, but headed over to Fly Me To the Moon Saloon for a little bit of The Stooges Brass Band. These guys are like a younger Dirty Dozen or Rebirth Brass Band. They are high energy and almost playful at times in their delivery. They had some humorous exchanges, especially on “Got A Big Fat Woman.” They were a hard hitting, funky brass jam. It was enjoyable. They also busted out their own take on “It’s All Over Now” made famous by the Rolling Stones. I headed back to my tent in the moonlight and got ready for day three.

Sunday came far too quickly and it was arguably the best day on the lineup. It began with a parade through the streets of Telluride lead by The Stooges. They all met up at the entrance to Town Park for a jam in the street before Boulder’s own Springdale Quartet started the show. Fresh off of the release of their new album Heist, which was produced by Alan Evans, Springdale has been performing all over Colorado. They won the band contest three years prior and were invited back to play this year at Telluride Jazz. For this special set they decided to play all of Heist for the crowd. It was an excellent chance to see all of the new tracks live. Their performance was absolutely stellar with “IBM 22” and their instrumental version of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” really demonstrated how this band has evolved. Tight bass lines from Jordon Roos accented by Chase Terzain’s keys made for a stunning set. They closed with “Noise Factory” off their first album.

Although I’m highly familiar with Mike Dillon’s work with Garage A Tois and various projects over the years, this was my first chance seeing his new solo group. It’s a percussive collision of the best kind. The band consists of Dillon on vibraphone, Carly Meyers on trombone and percussion, Adam Gertner on drums, Patrick McDevitt on bass, and they also added Johnny Durkin on percussion as well. Their set in Telluride ran from playful to downright sinister. The focal point was an energetic Meyers who bounced around the stage between solos. There were several all out drum and percussion jams that punctuated an incredible performance of music. One jam featured a sit in from Stanton Moore.

“We’re gonna end with 10 minutes of punk rock.” – Mike Dillon

The Stooges Brass Band continued the New Orleans vibe, which would be the theme for the remainder of the evening. They are a bold new addition to the NOLA brass tradition. The Stooges engaged the crowd with their song “Wind It Up” and subsequent dance of the same name. Their energetic stage presence and strong musical ability are truly worth seeing live. They closed with a funked out version of “Hey Baby.” The New Orleans Suspects followed and just as the night before they shredded through a long set that was utterly reminiscent of all things Louisiana. This band seems to distill that Mardi Gras sound down to it’s root elements and just play with them in every tune. Everything about the band is fun. They have a familiar sound without being nostalgic. The New Orleans Suspects are another fresh approach to a music with a very long history.

Appropriately, Galactic headlined the last night with their set starting right around 7 PM. This band has toured relentlessly since they formed 18 years ago as a Mardi Gras band. They invited Mike Dillon out who sat in on percussion for the entire show. Corey Glover who has been touring with the band for the last couple years was there to add his prodigious vocals to the mix. Their performance sparked an all out dance party as the stars became visible in the sky. Galactic invited members the Mike Dillon Band, The New Orleans Suspects, and The Stooges Brass Band to close out their set. It became a massive clusterfunk as the musicians passed around solos and simply jammed it out for the very attentive audience. This was the true highlight of the weekend; witnessing stellar collaboration happening on the fly in Telluride. Galactic finished around 9 PM and the field slowly emptied.

As the eclectic audience headed back to their tents I was struck with a feeling of gratitude to be in Telluride. It’s good to know that festivals like this have a special place. Telluride Jazz Festival is truly a unique experience with a slightly older crowd that seemed to be have more locals in attendance. It is by far one of the most family friendly environments I’ve ever seen at an event. Children ran around in the backfield and played throughout all three days. There were no overlapping sets, so everything felt relaxed. There was plenty of time to head back to the tents, which were only a few steps away from the gate, and the security was lax and friendly. As I drove back to Ft. Collins the next day, I was hard-pressed to think of one bad thing about the weekend. If a chill festival experience with some top rate musicians is what you are looking for, get to Telluride Jazz.

Nicholas Stock’s Photo Gallery