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...



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