Tuesday, September 24, 2013

MusicMarauders Presents: The Infamous Stringdusters & Members of Railroad Earth 9.13.13

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

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

Once again I found myself getting ready to rage the night away while listening to one of my favorite bands do their “thing” at Cervantes this past Friday the 13th. For a date known to the masses as one filled with bad-luck, broken mirrors, and black cats this was a Friday the 13th to remember forever as the Infamous Stringdusters were ready to shred the shadow of this date into our distant memories. Also making this show even more unique was the fact that Lotus had cancelled their Red Rocks appearance that night due to the extreme danger associated with the crazy thunderstorms Colorado endured over that weekend. And holy moly was Cervantes ripping and roaring! Packed to the gills, Cervantes was the perfect place for us Coloradans to come in from the insane weather and dry our bodies off with some good ole bluegrass. And boy, did the Duster’s come ready to party.

“Traveling Teardrop Blues” brought Cervantes to a raging start, as the Duster’s kicked off their Friday the 13th show with a phenomenal cover of the Del McCoury classic. Bassist Travis Book used his soul-soothing vocals to bring a youthful energy to this legendary song, and then the first notes of the JJ Cale song “After Midnight” started echoing through the speakers. Cervantes exploded with excitement as Travis once again took lead vocals on this truly badass cover sandwich of sorts, and when the final verse of “Traveling Teardrop Blues” gave the audience their first chance to applaud a standing ovation ensued. (What an absolutely crazy and unique as all hell way to start off a bluegrass extravaganza.) The Duster originals “In God’s Country”, “Peace of Mind”, and “Night on the River” followed the cover-song sandwich, and were played to their common level of preciseness. “Like I Do”, “Rivers Run Cold” and “Well Well” were also heard during this set, but the real highlights for me were the spot-on, Duster-style renditions of the cover songs they chose to play. The Grateful Dead classic “He’s Gone” led into the set-closing “Well Well”, and wow do the Duster’s do this cover justice. Five band members, all in perfect vocal harmony paying tribute to anyone who might not still be with us. This was truly a perfect way to end a very energetic start to the evening.

Set One: Traveling Teardrop Blues > After Midnight > Traveling Teardrop Blues, In God’s Country, Peace of Mind, Night on the River, Like I Do, Rivers Run Cold, He’s Gone, Well Well

Set Two: Home, Get It While You Can, No More To Leave You Behind, 17 Cents, Don’t Think Twice, Metal, Machines, High On The Mountaintop*, Angeline The Baker*, Steam Powered Aereoplane*, Summercamp, Fork in the Road, Let It Go, Up On Cripple Creek

Encore: Blackrock

*With Tim Carbone, Andy Goessling, and John Skehan from Railroad Earth

Set Two of the Dusters' Friday the 13th show was full of Duster originals, guest appearances, and again a great array of beautifully played cover songs. Songs such as “Get It While You Can”, “Machines”, “Fork in the Road”, and “Summercamp” have become Duster staples and the Cervantes crowd ate every last bit of them up. But the real treat for us Denver music lovers was when members of the opening band, The Hackensaw Boys joined the Duster’s for a couple of amazing jammed out bluegrass numbers. Railroad Earth members Tim Carbone, Andy Goessling, and John Skehan were the three extraordinary additions to the already stellar quintet and wow was this combo HOT! “High on the Mountaintop” came first with Tim Carbone and Duster fiddle maestro Jeremy Garrett trading insane licks until I honestly thought Carbone was going to pass out from smiling so much. As Carbone is one of my all-time favorite musicians to watch on stage, it made for a great dynamic between the non-stop moving Dusters and the wise veteran of the bluegrass scene. “Angeline the Baker” was next and led to Goessling and Skehan joining the jamgrass festivities with their acoustic guitar and mandolin to boot. “Angeline” was written way back in 1834 to be played for folky occasions, but with dobro player Andy Hall leading the charge “Angeline” seemed to have a bit of a “Dusty Step” to her this time around. Using Skehan as his lick-trading partner, Hall ripped through chord progressions with vigor and as always smiled his way through it. The ever classic and always crowd-pleasing “Steam Power Aereoplane” finished the “Infamous Earth” collaboration with a raucous ovation, and the Denver music lovers knew just how special those three songs just were.

What happens when you put five extremely talented individuals together, and encourage them to create whatever musical masterpiece comes into their collective minds? Is it possible when forming this group of musical magicians that they themselves knew just how tight and talented they would sound? Would their quick ascent through the ranks of the bluegrass genre cripple their want to improvise and want to keep improving on the steady sound they already possess? Could they really just be that damn good? I find myself questioning everything I know or thought I knew about music when it comes to the incredible group of musicians, which we in the music scene have come to know as The Infamous Stringdusters. Yes, this is my third article referring to the amazingness that has come to be called “Gettin Dusted” and this will be my final review of this band for the time being. Honestly, I am running out of synonyms for the words “Awesome, incredible, uber-talented” because there is not one bad thing I can say about this group. But more importantly, I have said what I needed to say and truly believe I have given everything I have (Word-wise) to this band. If this article and the one’s previous to it have not convinced you to seek out the musical beauty these men create, I honestly cannot say anymore.

There is not a band that possesses the excitement and drive to perform on a nightly basis like the Dusters. There is not a bluegrass group (at least of what I know of) who can incorporate the theory of “Jamming” so intricately within the confines of what traditional bluegrass is supposed to sound like. If you know of a group that has more fun playing with each other on stage let me know. If you can find a musical quintet who just doesn’t seem to make mistakes, bring them on. I challenge all who read this to go out and find groups who bring as much to the table as the Dusters do, because I honestly believe it would be quite a hard task. To say that my excitement for the upcoming Boulder Theater shows in December is growing might be the understatement of the century. Us Coloradans are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see these boys rip it up in one of the nicest music venues our country has to offer, and I highly recommend all take full advantage of this. It will not be long before we see The Infamous Stringdusters headlining the likes of Red Rocks, the Gorge, and various other massive outdoor venues. I just hope my non-stop encouraging to see them will allow you to witness their incredible talents in any way possible. Because as always, I promise you will not be disappointed.

Kevin's Photo Gallery


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Two Nights of Tiger Party to Benefit Colorado Flood Relief

Denver, CO

Join us on Friday September 20th & Saturday September 21st for two nights of Tiger Party that will feature members of The Malah, Octopus Nebula, Kinetix, DYNOHUNTER, Eminence Ensemble, DJ Craig Heneveld & more as well as some very talented visual artists! Cover at the door is $5.00 with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Colorado Flood Relief! Come out for some great music, art, people, drinks, dancing and most importantly, to help Colorado get back on track following some of the state's worst flooding in recorded history!

If you can't make the event, feel free to make a donation at www.globalgiving.org

Official Facebook Event Page: www.facebook.com/events


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MusicMarauders Presents: Juno What

The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

Join us on Saturday September 21st for MusicMarauders Presents: Juno What at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO! Purchase your tickets now at www.foxtheatre.frontgatetickets.com and be sure to get down to Colorado's own!

Doors: 08:30 PM Show: 09:00 PM
$10 ADV / $12 DOS + $2 for under 21 tickets



Benefit For Colorado: Luke & Jesse Miller (Lotus) & Brian Jordan Trio 9.13.13

Denver, CO

Words & Photos By J-man

It was early afternoon on Friday September 13th. The sun was shining, the birds chirping and folks passed in and out of the office door of Cervantes in Denver, CO purchasing tickets for MusicMarauders Presents: The Infamous Stringdusters & Skockenaw Mountain Boys. Things were looking good in regards to ticket sales and as the Stringdusters loaded in I turned to my "to do" list. I handled some logistics, attempted to locate Tim Carbone to drop off some of his gear and made preparations for a busy evening between Cervantes, Brian Jordan Trio at Armoury and Lotus at Red Rocks, when all of a sudden I got an unusual text. "Looks like Red Rocks is most likely being postponed," the text read. The message continued inquiring about venues in town. This would have been a normal text message if it had not been from Luke Miller on the day that Lotus was playing Red Rocks. Another text followed from Lotus' Monitor Tech, Padraic McQuillan, inquiring about the availability of Armoury. I decided it best to talk details on the phone and ultimately we came to the conclusion that it was worth a try but that the band would probably take the night off. With the cancellation announcement in place Stringdusters tickets began to fly off of the shelves towards a sell out. I headed across town to Armoury to check the next item of business off of my list when my phone rang. I answered to hear Luke exclaim that they wanted to do something at Armoury, before he launched into the details. By the time we hung up, the realization that members of Lotus would be playing Armoury on a night that they were scheduled to play Red Rocks hit me. I was overtaken with a variety of emotions, but kept focused due to all of the work that came with such an undertaking.

Back at my house I explained to Brian Jordan, who had been staying with us for the week, the insane situation that had played out. That night instead of competing with Lotus, he would be opening for and playing with members of Lotus at a sold out Armoury. We spread the word like a wildfire and before we knew it, the event page which earlier in the day had twenty five RSVPs, was now approaching two hundred. Additional staff was pulled from a couple of Armoury's sister bars and by 5:30 PM I started getting texts about the growing crowd at the venue. We loaded up the car for the evening, swung by Cervantes to drop off Tim's gear and to congratulate the Stringdusters on a sell out, made a stop by Paul Brown's (LOHI Productions) to pick up an amp for Brian before arriving at the packed Armoury. By 6:30 PM, Armoury was at capacity. We loaded in for the evening's opening Brian Jordan Trio set which kicked off around 7:30 PM. Blake Mobley (Tiger Party) had been added to the bill and in talking to him before the show, I picked up on his excitement and anticipation. With the trio taking the stage, music began at Armoury and the capacity crowd got down. It was great to see the trio in front of a packed house and to see how receptive the young crowd was. The Brian Jordan Trio killed it and Blake Mobley destroyed the keys and synth bass. At the end of their set, per the energy in the room, the trio took an encore.

Outside of Armoury the line extended down the block with fans waiting to get into the intimate room while more continued to arrive. Luke and Jesse were dropped off by their mother, who was an absolute delight. The duo began to set up with the help of myself and sound engineer, Don Ross. a short time later they were up and DJing to a tightly packed room! Fans that had yet to make it in, cupped their hands peering through the front window at the action. The crowd was going crazy and rightfully so... no one expected to be in such a small room with a band that should have been playing the Rocks. A short time after they began, they called up drummer Blake, from the Brian Jordan Trio. The electronic groves sounded great with a drummer and before long, both Luke and Jesse were playing instruments, while calling Brian to the stage. Brian stepped up and threw down, blowing the young audience away and adding a fantastic layer to the mix. The final piece of the puzzle was Blake Mobley on keys and they were off to the races.

I froze, looking around the room with the realization that this was a special moment that could not be replicated. This was any promoter and music fan's dream and we were all lucky enough to participate in such a happening. The bartenders flew back and forth at a dizzying pace all night long as the door staff held its ground both at the front and back of the venue. Throughout the night people continued to show up claiming to know the band, work with the band, etc. Everyone had a story, and with good reason; That night in Colorado, Armoury was the place to be. As the midnight hour came and went, so too did the show. Lotus had a tour to tend to and an early morning departure time on their tour bus. Armoury slowly cleared out and as the band pulled their gear from the stage I turned to Luke and said "Thank you... Is your mom coming to pick you guys up?" with a wink. He smiled and shook his head at the joke. I tied up a few loose ends and before I knew it, we were over at Cervantes talking to the Railroad Earth guys about the following days rescheduling and enjoying the music of the Stringdusters. What a night in Denver! There is absolutely no town like it! In the end the Lotus Camp, Brian Jordan Trio & Armoury raised about $2,500.00 for the Colorado flood relief. To be able to get down as hard as we did and have the evening benefit a great cause was truly a pleasure and a great feeling!

J-man's Photo Gallery



Monday, September 16, 2013

Phish 8.30 - 9.1.13

Dick's Sporting Goods Park
Commerce City, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By Brad Hodge

There are several universal truths in the universe, one of which being that when Phish comes to Colorado to play Dick's Sporting Goods Park, folks will flock from all over the country to see the scene's most coveted band. With the capacity of the venue reaching a sizable 27,000, this would not be a small gathering. The circus was in town and surrounding the main event were a plethora of smaller happenings. Thursday evening played host to a free Everyone Orchestra show at Denver's Sculpture Park that featured members of The String Cheese Incident, moe., Trey Anastasio Band, The Motet, Garaj Mahal, Elephant Revival and more! Across town, Cervantes played host to a near sold out This Must Be The Band show. Flights into Denver were packed with dreadlocked folks for days leading up to the weekend and as Friday arrived, friends and family reunited for what would be the first of three nights of Phish.

Friday August 30th, 2013:

The camping fields opened at 9:00 AM and the lot followed suit at 3:00 PM. EZ-ups pointed to the sky as grills, coolers, t-shirts, crystals and merchandise of all varieties began to sell. With the lot filling in shakedown was open for business. A typical afternoon Front Range storm rolled in and cooled off the hot Colorado climate. The sun returned for a beautiful sunset with fans scrambling with their fingers in the air for field tickets. The show would not entirely sell out that evening, but it would come close, foreshadowing the next couple of nights. In the sky above Dick's flew planes with banners for cultivation shops as well as a banner that read "READ THE BOOK!!" As commercial planes flew high above the venue, a small plane passed right over the top of Dick's a handful of times. There was no shortage of stimulation on lot.

The lines outside of Dick's were long and full of excitement. As darkness filled the sky, the roar of the crowd came first, followed by "Ghost," a throwback that Phish had played a handful of times on their summer tour. "NICU," another throwback that's been making its rounds this year, came next to the delight of the quickly filling venue. What followed was one of the highlights of the evening, if not the weekend. Trey began by thanking the near capacity crowd and yelling "we love Dick's," before launching into mentioning planes in the sky with layered messages, and giving the history of the book, "Icculus." The song had only been played twice in the past fifteen years, and as they played the short number, old school Phish fan freaked out. It was at this point when rumors started to circulate throughout the crowd that the band was spelling something... backwards. A short "Heavy Things" came next providing sweet melodies and rhythms. Yet another 90's era tune, "Theme From The Bottom," made an appearance as it has a number of times this summer, this time going into "Esther," another rarity that hadn't shown face in a couple of years.

"Moma Dance," came next eluding to the fact that Phish may be spelling "something" backwards. "Moma Dance" went into an expected "Ocelot," the first somewhat newer song of the evening. "Stash," a song that is played at about twenty five percent of all Phish shows, closed out the first backwards word of the evening, as the crowd clapped on cue and got down. "Lawn Boy" came next with Page Mcconnell stepping up to the mic and providing an "L" to Phish's message. "Limb By Limb" left the crowd with yet another "L" as Phish tackled "Easy To Slip," a Little Feat song, for the first time to close out what felt like a old school set. The lights came up and the sea of people parted heading in all directions. A short time later the approximately 25,000 fans returned to their designated space and prepared for the second set of the weekend.

The second set began with "Punch You In The Eye" into "Sand" to affirm that the second word the band was spelling was indeed "Spell." The band got loose on "Punch You In The Eye," before the transition into "Sand," which came with a burst of excitement from the crowd. The well placed newer song, "Say Something," went into "Walls of The Cave," a song that debuted at Madison Square Garden on New Years Eve 2002. "Walls of The Cave" went into "Oh Kee Pa Ceremony" for just under two minutes before transitioning into a beautifully executed "Harry Hood" that was left unfinished before transitioning into "Silent In The Morning" to spell the word "shows." "Silent In The Morning" went into the classic "Twist" that welcomed the ever so controversial "woo" from the crowd, before going into yet another throwback, "Slave To The Traffic Light," to end the second set. The crowd was pleased. After a short time the band returned to perform "Oh Sweet Nuthin'" a song that hadn't been played in about three years. The evening would clearly end with a song that began with "M" and indeed we were treated to "Meatstick" to close a fantastic night one. It was so much fun to look around and see thousands of people doing the "Meatstick" dance while Phish sang in Japanese!

As the show concluded, smiling wide-eyed faces poured out of Dick's heading for the campgrounds, to after shows, to house parties and beyond, most knowing full well that they would return for the following evening's show...

Saturday August 31st, 2013:

There were a lot more folks on lot in the early hour of Saturday afternoon, with the show selling out around the 5:00 PM hour. "Buried Alive," a song that Phish hadn't played in over a year, kicked off the third set of the weekend with ripping progressions! One of the earliest songs from Trey's "Gamehenge" to appear in Phish's live shows, "AC/DC Bag" went into another 1994 classic, "Wolfman's Brother!" "Yarmouth Road," a newer song that was unveiled this year at SPAC, followed reflecting a simple, unrefined output from the band. Another older song from the 80's that hadn't shown face in a year, "Fee," went into the relatively newer "Halfway To The Moon." Another favorite Phish song, "The Wedge" followed marking it's fifth play in 2013. "Halley's Comet" kicked off with the vocal jam before heading into the core of the song and heading into a stellar "Bathtub Gin" with the band building up and tearing down the fantastic composition. The characteristic drum beat from "Bouncing Around The Room" came from John Fishman on the kit. The song opened up and went into Mike's "Mound" featuring some captivating airy key work from Page. "Gumbo" came next triggering the sold out crowd to get down before the band went into "Run Like An Antelope!" The jam was deep and fluid before the vocals kicked into to gear! It was the perfect way to close out the set.

The lights came up, the chaos ensued, and a short time later Phish returned to the stage for the fourth set of the weekend. They kicked off the set with "Chalkdust Torture," one of the most played and most rocking songs from the band's catalogue. The relatively newer song "Light" went into "46 Days" with glowsticks flying through the air. "46 Days" transitioned into the slower, "Steam," a song that has been in steady rotation since 2011, before jumping right into the throwback, "Free." "Joy" followed offering a look into the softer side of Phish with lines like "We want you to be happy, come step outside your room." "Joy" transitioned into Deodato's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" before going into "Tweezer," which was the first since the epic thirty-seven minute "Tweezer" from Tahoe, triggering one of the evening's definite peaks. Glowsticks rained down on the capacity crowd as they danced carelessly and sang along. "Tweezer" transitioned into "Backwards Down The Number Line" to close the fourth set of the run.

"You guys, thanks for finishing out the summer tour with us here. We had such a good time, tonight, last night, the whole weekend and really the whole summer, I've got to say. Just thank you so much. We're going to go back to Vermont after tomorrow's show and we'll see you again in the fall I guess... I hope! All of you! So thank you!" Trey said humbly to the 27,000 person crowd.

Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again" seemed the perfect fit for a Phish debut, before closing the evening out with "Tweezer Reprise!" The crowd erupted for one last short burst before the lights came up and folks were left to their own devices. For approximately 800 folks, that meant heading to Cervantes in Denver for Leftover Salmon feat. Andy Hall and DJ Logic, which kicked off at 1:00 AM! For others, the evening would welcome a return to their respective hotels to watch the walls melt.

Sunday September 1st, 2013:

Folks appeared no worse for wear in lot on Sunday, to attend what for many was the closest thing to church they would come. Kickbacks were in place on a whole variety of goods on lot, and as the evening's show once again sold out early, the search for many began with a finger in the air. My group consisted of the weekend's "usual suspects," Senator Al Gerlach Independent from Michigan sporting an electric suit, Murray sporting a dashiki and Kris Spuckes in a onsie. Everything was on the table and yet, all bets were off. The group assembled, we joined the masses and began the long wait to enter the venue. On the field folks found their space as Phish appeared and began with "A Song I heard The Ocean Sing." The newer "Kill Devil Falls," came next providing a more sought after space. "Back On The Train" entered the picture with fans getting down before Phish headed into "Rift." Fishman driving percussion led the charge and collided with soaring harmonies. "Meat" went into "It's Ice," triggered by Trey's forward moving licks and surrounding Tom Marshall's poem. The jam was strong, heading up and down, taking fans on a musical journey before heading into another 1991 classic, "Guelah Papyrus." That night would mark its first appearance of the year and it was indeed a spacey one.

The band reached back to the 80's for fan favorite, "Divided Sky," that exceed fifteen minutes and made room for some stimulating glowstick work from the sold out crowd. It was performed masterfully and was an instant reminder of Phish's full melodic potential. I stared up at the sky and watched the lights dance as Phish slowed it down. The cheering of the crowd brought me back to reality as the band stalled allowing for the fans to show their appreciation for the moment... and what a moment it was. A minute in a half later Phish continued with the show. The Son Seals original "Funky Bitch" swayed folks, and each member of the band dug in for ripping instrumental work following Gordo's vocals. "Cavern," another twenty five percenter, dropped in like a covert mission on a crowd that was up for the challenge. "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan" came with folks singing along to lines like "Got a blank space where my mind should be" and "whatever you do, take care of your shoes," at the top of their lungs. The jam was intense and made way for "David Bowie" that reached twelve minutes and explored the full potential of Phish's compositional ability to close the fifth set of the weekend.

Conversations began, goodbyes were said, tears were shed, but only until the lights dropped back down for one final set. "Carini" it was, and heavy riffs followed suit with one of the most intense and euphoric portions of the show. "Carini" went into "Birds of a Feather," for one of the show's high points, before going into "Golden Age," which turned into "Prince Caspian." It was a blissful way to start the final set of the weekend and didn't stop there. "Prince Caspian" transitioned into an eleven minute "Piper," with alternating vocal lines and vocal interaction from the crowd before Trey tore down the house. "Piper" went into Stevie Wonder's "Boogie on Reggae Woman" with Gordo leading the charge before the band went into "Saw It Again." That would mark the first time that "Saw It Again" was played this year, and it was both ripping and menacing. "Mike's Song" came next with the capacity crowd getting down before the band transitioned into the first time played, "Legalize It." The crowd went absolutely crazy and Dick's was quickly overtaken with smoke. As if there wasn't already a plethora of smoke in the air, being a Phish show, Dick's began to look like the Boulder 420 rally of years past. A reference to "Sour Diesel" triggered a scream from the proud crowd. "Legalize It" went into the 1988 classic, "Weekapaug Groove," with Dick's absolutely radiating energy.

The band slowed it down a touch with the relatively newer, "Show of Life," before diving into another 80's throwback, "Suzy Greenberg" to close the sixth set of the weekend. The crowd yelled "Suzy, Suzy, Suzy, Suzy, Suzy, Suzy Greenberg" along side of the band until Page took over on keys.

"Seriously, thank you all so much. This is our last set of the tour and the summer tour. We just had such a good time, I really don't know what to say. You've been, without question, the greatest audience and friends and people on earth that any band has ever been blessed with... Getting to play music and dance with all night. I don't even know how to describe it. You guys are unbelievable and amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you, so much. We hope you had even like one iota as much fun as we did this summer. Thank you! Bless you from the bottom of my heart. Thirty years... Unbelievable... Oh my god. Thank you, thank you, thank you" said a clearly humbled Trey to the 27,000 person crowd. A short time after walking off stage, the band returned with "Character Zero," for one last build up and peak out. Five and a half minutes later and the weekend was over.

As the lights came up people stared off into the distance, scratched their heads and in a seemingly collective thought, reflect on what to do next. It was a long weekend of music, partying, friends, both old and new, business, and celebration. Looking back on it now, it was one of the greatest weekend's of music that I can recall experiencing. It was a vacation in my hometown, where the lines between people I knew and didn't know were blurred. Dick's became our corner of the country for an extended weekend and left us with more stories than we could possibly tell or recall. It was the best of times for most and reflected a similar sentiment from the band. The following days would involve extensive travel for many and a return home from seeing one of the world's greatest touring bands on the road. For me, it meant a couple of days of rest before returning to reality. Sitting at my desk, a message popped up from a friend across the country that read, "Phish is in their prime... again." I couldn't agree more.

Brad's Photo Gallery


Lotus "Monks" Album Release/Listening Party 9.10.13

Denver, CO

Words & Photos By J-man

Tuesday August 10th marked the release of Lotus' new album, Monks. To celebrate the occasion Lotus hosted an album release/listening party at Armoury in Denver, CO on the brink of their headlining gig the following Friday at Red Rocks. The intimate room provided the perfect backdrop for fans to hear the new album with explanations about the tracks and concepts from Luke and Jesse Miller themselves. As well, Mike Greenfield and Chuck Morris wandered around taking pictures with fans, signing Lotus merchandise and hanging out. It was a very unique experience for the near capacity room full of Lotus fans who were able to make it out on a weeknight. Following the listening of the album, Luke and Jesse stepped up to host a very special DJ set. It was my understanding that they haven't taken on this approach very frequently, if ever before.

The music was upbeat and interesting with smooth transitions, peaks and lows that appealed to the exciteable crowd. At times the duo performed together, at times they alternated, with the one who wasn't DJing making their way back into the crowd to mingle alongside the monk. Throughout the set there were samples of The Talking Heads, Daft Punk and more, but altered in a why that made them different from the original versions, yet still remaining true to their compositional approach. As the hour grew later the intoxicated crowd thinned out until all that was left were Luke, Jesse, the bartenders and a few lingering fans. The night was a huge success and the album sounded great. Folks dug the hip-hop vibe combined with the Lotus vibes. Having the option of seeing the Lotus crew in such a small room was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities... or so we thought.

J-man's Photo Gallery


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Leftover Salmon & Friends 8.31.13

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words By Nicholas Stock
Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot Photography)
Audio By Kind Recordings (Kind Recordings)

Leftover Salmon has reestablished themselves at the top of the jamgrass heap. This last minute show demonstrates they are paying attention and willing to play a show strictly for the fans. The show was scheduled to start around 1:00 AM, well after Phish’s last note. It was billed as Leftover Salmon & Friends, and rumors swirled around as to who would be sitting in. Because of the Snowy Range Festival where Salmon was playing on Sunday, names like Sam Bush and Keller Williams were dropped frequently. This would not be the case in Denver, however Bush did sit in at Snowy Range for what it’s worth. The drive down was smooth and we arrived just before show time. Although the concert sold out immediately, it honestly wasn’t super packed. The room was definitely full, but manageable. Next-door The Pimps Of Joytime also played for those willing to venture out after Dick’s. Salmon took the stage around 1:30 AM and straight away set the pace with a ripping “Mama Boulet.”

Leftover Salmon Live at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom on August 31, 2013.

Set One: Mama Boulet, Little Maggie, Ask The Fish*, Two Highways, Head Over Heels Over You**, Bird Call*, Home Cookin’, Morning Sun, High Country, Doing My Time, Dance On Your Head*, Aquatic Hitchhiker#, Midnight Rider**,#
Encore: Pasta On The Mountain#, Wake and Bake**,#

Andy Hall from The Infamous Stringduster’s on Dobro for the entire show

*w/ DJ Logic on Turntables
**Andy Hall on Vocals
#Zeb Bowles on Fiddle

They chose to perform one long set rather that push it to daylight with a setbreak. Andy Hall sat in on dobro for the entire show, and he was a solid addition to the lineup. Musically Salmon is a new band open to new dynamics in their performances. Hence the pair of “& Friends” shows. DJ Logic joined the boys on a spacey and deep “Ask The Fish.” “Two Highways” featured some incredible picking by Drew Emmitt, before Andy Hall took the vocals on “Head Over Heels.” Logic came back on “Bird Call” with more of what I would call subtle scratching. I call it that because despite the fact that Logic can rip it up he always seems very low over the PA and at times is inaudible in the mix. Vince gave us a driving rock tune accentuated by Hall’s dobro on “Home Cookin’.” Andy Thorn’s banjo was the focal point on “Morning Sun” before the band went traditional on “High Country.” Logic rejoined the band for Leftover’s now classic “Dance On Your Head.” Zeb Bowles from Coral Creek appeared onstage for the insane instrumental “Aquatic Hitchhiker.” This really felt like a family affair with lots of sit ins and great musical interplay with everyone involved. They all filled a niche in the sound and created a fantastic show for all of the late night fans. Zebulon stayed on for the Hall sung version of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider.” This is a fun cover that I’ve seen executed poorly in the past. This take was spot on and a great close to the almost two hour set.

Leftover Salmon returned with Zeb for a chunky rendition of “Pasta On The Mountain” that went for nearly fifteen minutes. Hall sang on the show closing “Wake and Bake,” which seemed appropriate given the late or early hour depending on your perspective. Leftover Salmon has reemerged from uncertainty to a pinnacle concert experience. Thorn has truly reinvigorated this band, and musical additions like Andy Hall and Zeb Bowles deepen their sound and push their compositions further. As I left the venue and headed back to the campsite at Dick’s I was only left with two questions. Who was that drummer and where is Jose Martinez?

Kevin' Photo Gallery


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Springdale Quartet feat. Brian Jordan 9.6.13

Denver, CO

Words & Photos By J-man

When it came to booking a September residency at Armoury in Denver, CO, Springdale Quartet seemed the perfect fit. There is something about the young group that reflects a certain discipline and chemistry that many find to be captivating. As the date approached, we were forced to switch their initial Thursday gig to a Friday show, to allow for STS9's Red Rocks Pre-party. With the swap in place, it set up the perfect storm of events that led to a fantastic evening. The day of the show I saw that guitarist Brian Jordan was in Denver, so I reached out about a possible sit-in to kick off the residency and Brian was excited to get involved! That evening the band loaded in, got set up and worked patiently around a soccer game viewing party that was taking place. As soon as the sound check concluded I knew that we were in for something special!

From the start, Springdale came out with the intention of blowing away the reasonably filled room. By the time Brian Jordan hit the stage folks were getting down. The rhythm section that consisted of Jordan Roos (Bass) and Greg Russell (Drums), created a moving grove that at no point lost my interest. Chase Terzian (Keys) tore into the organ while Ben Waligoske (Guitar) shredded with tasteful ease. Brian fit in perfectly, adding impressive licks and at times going back and forth with Ben. A couple of highlights of the two set show came in the form of The Talking Heads' "Slippery People," Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood's "Chank" and Medeski, Martin & Wood's "Chub Sub." The night was a success and a great way to kick off the opening of their September residency! The Residency will continue every Thursday this month.

J-man's Photo Gallery



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

MusicMarauders Presents: Two Nights of Snarky Puppy

Cervantes Other Side
Denver, CO

Join us on Saturday September 14th & Sunday September 15th for MusicMarauders Presents: Two Nights of Snarky Puppy at Cervantes Other Side in Denver, CO!

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm (event ends at 2:00 am)
$18 Advance / $20 Day Of Show / $30 2-Day Pass

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

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


Lotus' "Monks" Listening/Release Party

Denver, CO

Join us tonight, Tuesday September 10th, for an intimate listening party featuring Lotus' new album Monks, as well as a special DJ set featuring Luke & Jesse Miller! Come hang out, have a few drinks and mingle with Lotus! The band will be hanging out if you want to chat or get something signed. There will be a screening of a new music video, and the "Monk" might also be floating around if you want to buy him a drink.

The Monks album can be downloaded at www.lotusvibes.bandcamp.com/album/monks

Official Event Page: www.facebook.com/events



Monday, September 9, 2013

The Everyone Orchestra 8.29.13

Sculpture Park
Denver, Colorado

Words By Nicholas Stock
Audio By Corey Sandoval (Kind Recordings)
Photos By Nicholas Stock & Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot Photography)

The Everyone Orchestra is the musical monstrosity that pairs incredible talent with the razor-sharp mind of Matt Butler. While the lineup itself takes on many forms, Butler and his white board are the one constant. Prior to Phish’s three-night run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Jay Bianchi arranged for a little shindig under the stars. They have produced a couple of these "music in the park" type events with positive feedback. This was the second to take place in Sculpture Park in front of the Denver Performing Arts Center. Giant, androgynous statues dance in the field, and they immediately became everyone’s go-to meeting place. The Dead Phish Orchestra opened up, but we arrived just as they finished up their set. Several vendors lined the ample-sized field, with the beer garden being the biggest draw.

The lineup on this particular night was absolutely stellar, consisting of Kyle Hollingsworth (SCI) on keys, Michael Kang (SCI) on electric mandolin, Dave Watts (Motet) on kit, Jans Ingber (Motet) on percussion and vocals, Jennifer Hartswick (TAB) on trumpet and vocals, Al Schnier (moe., Floodwood) on guitar, Kai Eckardt (Garage Mahal) on bass, and Bridget Law (Elephant Revival) on fiddle, with Butler orchestrating. Jason Hann (SCI) and Ted Tilton (DPO) both sat in during the second set as well. The sheer aptitude for music in this configuration of Everyone Orchestra is utterly mind-blowing. I’ve seen many different EO shows, but this has to be at the top of heap simply from musicianship. The show began with a vocal jam between Butler and the crowd. Watts’ lockstep beat was in full effect as Kyle tickled the keys elegantly.

Everyone Orchestra Live at Sculpture Park on August 29, 2013.

This two set show featured some extensive jamming from EO. Strong vocal interplay between Jans and Hartswick were yet another highlight of this musical journey. With the majority of their “songs” hitting almost twenty minutes, they had plenty of time to pass the potato around. Al was a focal point for many all night as he simply shredded. Kai too was impressive to watch as he held it all down with his funky bass riffs. The first set was a little tame, as they got into their groove during the second set. Watching improvisation happen live can be a lot like watching a flower bloom. Sure everyone on stage is an absolute talent, but they have to be truly in synch with other musicians, several of whom they may never have met before, to actually perform together. That takes a special kind of genius. Everyone Orchestra played well into the evening as the sun set behind Sculpture Park. EO would claim that they are there to have fun, but with each show they continue to foster the spirit of improvisation. The show in Sculpture Park featured a lot of crowd interaction, more than a few vocal based songs, and epic jamming. At one point during the second set I was fairly sure they were jamming on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” This was a great way to start my weekend with Phish. EO always gets the musical juices flowing. They are a jam institution as far as I’m concerned. Butler travels all over the country paring up players, and spreading the power of improvisation. In what other venue is it even possible to see members of The Motet, SCI and moe. all jamming together onstage? It’s special every time they perform and their show in Sculpture Park was definitely a unique experience.

Nicholas' Photo Gallery

Kevin's Photo Gallery


MusicMarauders Presents: The Infamous Stringdusters w/ The Shockenaw Mountain Boys feat. Members of Railroad Earth

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Join us on Friday September 13th for MusicMarauders Presents: The Infamous Stringdusters w/ The Shockenaw Mountain Boys feat. Members of Railroad Earth at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver, CO!

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm (event ends at 2:00 am)
$25.00 Advance

Purchase Tickets Here: www.ticketfly.com/purchase



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Yarmony Grass Festival, 8.23 - 8.25.13

State Bridge
Bond, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

Having made the drive to State Bridge once before, I knew I could expect beautiful scenery, a happening campground, a rowdy shuttle, some quality river time, great music, and a bit of fun. Having known the history of Yarmony, I also knew the weekend would be filled by with appearances by members of one of my favorite bands, String Cheese Incident. The temperature swings in Bond were drastic with shivering nights and smoldering days. I fought both with varying types of alcohol. The first night we arrived shortly after sunset, and set about making a campsite at Rancho del Rio with some friends. Once we joined tent city, we headed to the bus stop to catch the shuttle over to the stage.

Drew Emmitt's Joint Set featured Scott Law, Andy Thorn, and Keith Moseley, and had the crowd dancing hard to some speedy pickin'. They were one of my favorite acts of the weekend. I tend to like most of Drew Emmitt's work, and half expected their buddy Billy Nershi to sit in for a tune, but it never happened. I've seen Whiskey Tango numerous times in the last few years, and have genuinely enjoyed them every time. While I always had fun, I never felt like they broke much new ground. Rather, they learned how to go a million places, that had been previously explored by other bands, really well. Just because they weren't the most innovative band I've ever seen didn't mean they weren't fun. After Tango's set we returned to Rancho del Rio and continued to enjoy the company of the other attendees. The bus ride was drunken, loud, and funny. The bus driver reminded me of someone I couldn't quite place. Maybe Artie Lang? Either way, he was friendly, listened to good music, and wore a hat that said, "party like a rock star." His services were greatly appreciated... Getting us safely to and from the shows each day.

The night grew late quickly and I found myself shivering beneath the stars. I bundled up and crawled into my tent, determined to get some rest before Saturday commenced. Sure enough, the sun popped over the ridge line early, and I found myself wandering around Rancho with a new friend and two beers in hand. It was hot and the Sierra Nevada's were going down quicker than Aaron Hernandez. Before long, the campground was bustling with entrepreneurs, sailors, hippies, and more. The sun illuminated the surrounding ridges and gave me my first glimpse of how beautiful Rancho is in the daylight. By noon, I'd polished off as many beers as I typically have all night, and from there continued to get silly. Fortunately, I did pace myself, and therefor never really lost control, and generally just had a relaxing day with new friends and old. Then they broke out the moonshine. With the oppressive sun demanding our attention, we loped our way over to the river and took turns taking dips. Before long, the day was getting away from us, and we decided to catch the bus back to State Bridge.

It was a good thing we did, because we made it just in time to see The Recovery Act. If you haven't seen them, they play super tight funk and soul with an angelic beauty that belts out the vocals. From The Jackson 5 to Stevie Wonder, they nailed the funk with authority. With a vocalist like Lindsay French, it can be tough to see beyond her gorgeous smile and sultry sounds, but the band executed flawlessly, and matched her talent every step of the way. Chris Thompson and Coral Creek were up next and brought their familiar down home vibe to the stage. One of Golden, CO's musical keystones, Thompson and company have been largely responsible for free bluegrass performances by such great musicians as Billy Nershi, Scott Law, and more. When it comes to a local musician fostering live music appreciation within a community, Chris has proven to be a dedicated, humble, and valuable member of Colorado's vibrant music scene.

When the Drunken Hearts took the stage, they brought headliner confidence. Their playing was rehearsed, their energy was high, and they seemed to have as much fun as we did. The performance featured guest appearances by Bill Nershi and Scott Law. Frontman Andrew McConathy, not only knew how to play, he knew how to throw a party. Yarmony has been his baby since he all but reunited String Cheese Incident in 2008, and while the festival has changed locations and size, it still had the love that made it a success in the first place.

Speaking of String Cheese Incident... The real reason I went was because the curiosity was killing me. EOTO with Billy Nershi sounded halfway promising, and halfway preposterous. It turned out to be a little of each. To start, the band seemed to be having issues getting their sound dialed in. Nershi, Travis, and Hann all looked frustrated, and I hoped they would be able to lose the negative energy before they launched into their lengthy improv-only set. Eventually they started playing, and the set began with an upbeat funky jam. Nershi played slide, Travis played a lot of bass, and Hann simply killed a drum kit for over two hours. I was never the biggest EDM fan, but from a technical standpoint, Jason Hann put on quite the percussion clinic. Travis was remarkably good at bass too. But the addition of a goggle wearing guitar player named Bill Nershi was what really made the show unique. EOTO took Nershi's musical preferences into account and played a much airier, spacier, show than usual. While I wouldn't say it was the best show I've seen, it wasn't the worst either. On a couple occasions I was reminded of the Horning's Hideout ritual sets. The free flowing musical energy intertwined with the crowd and new friends were made. Ultimately, it felt more like more of a gathering of kindred spirits than an attention-demanding musical performance.

That was, perhaps, the best thing about Yarmony. The bands, the fans, and the staff were generally a friendly bunch. People shared the sentiment as people exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch. And while those words have been hollow in the past, this time things seemed more genuine.

Brad's Photo Gallery


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Arise Music & Arts Festival 8.14 – 8.18.2013

Sunrise Ranch
Loveland, Colorado

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock

Word of a new musical endeavor swept up and down the Front Range this summer. At first glance many people assumed that Arise Music & Arts Festival was a yoga conference on performance enhancing drugs. They were incorrect. In one word Arise was ambitious. This aspiring event saw some of the best and brightest music producers collaborating to create a festival on the size and scope of Bonnaroo here in Colorado. Located at the Sunrise Ranch outside of the heart of Loveland, it would have been difficult to find a more picturesque and pristine place to throw a festival this side of the Continental Divide. The Sunrise Ranch is also the national headquarters for the Emissaries of The Divine Light who teach Atonement, which is the belief that “positive shifts in consciousness release healing energy.” Some have called them cultish however my experience over the weekend with members of that community did little to dredge up thoughts of Jonestown or Charles Manson. In fact what the attendees found was a holistic approach to a music festival. Workshops, activism opportunities, and panel discussions were dotted throughout the schedule, which seeded to go from sunup to sunup for all five days of Arise.

Now there were definitely a few logistical hiccups along the way, but all in all I would say Arise was spot on with scope, budget, and personnel. The biggest and most obvious issue was the fact that Arise occurred on the same weekend as Bohemian Nights: New West Fest. This yearly tradition pulls in about 30,000 people a day for three days, is free, and was headlined by Ben Harper this year. The fact is that historically New West Fest has been the second weekend in August, but this year it fell on the third weekend. So by accident really Arise took a big hit to possible attendees from the start. Secondly, the festival began on Wednesday and ended Sunday afternoon. This made it hard for people to get there early and stunted the first couple days of Arise. Finally, the beer situation was confusing. The Beer Garden offered mixed drinks and Odell’s, which is fine, but you were not allowed to leave the beer jail with your drink. All that being said, everything else was well executed and done with great care. Solid food and vendors lined the edge of the massive main stage area. The valley floor was a huge swath of beauty dotted with incredible art installations and great music. The lineup was absolutely appropriate. One end of the festival grounds featured tall rock walls and the opposite side features a massive reservoir. It was an incredible place to camp, convene with friends, and see live music.

On my lunch break on Thursday I headed up the canyon to Arise and set up my tent. I met with the press coordinator and got my credentials for the weekend. My wife and I wouldn’t make it back until Keller and The Keels emerged from backstage around 6:30 PM. Keller and The Keels is another demonstration of the fractional mind of Mr. Williams. He is concurrently playing with his funk band More Than A Little, continuing to play with the Travelin’ McCourys, and also playing solo looped performances. That is just in the last year. The Keels are immensely talented in their own right and add a full bluegrass sound to Keller’s picking style. They played classic versions of the Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper” and K-Dub’s opus “Breathe.” Keller stepped up to the microphone and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome acoustic reggae music,” before he went into Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.” By this point music had been going all day and people were getting acclimated to the flow of the festival. Unfortunately, Genetics was on at the same time as Keller so I raced over to catch a short snippet of their set. These guys continue to add depth and range to their musical repertoire. They recently had a lowly attended show at Hodi’s. Rather than playing angry or rushing through the show they took the opportunity to host an epic instrument-swapping jam that was truly impressive. They were messing around at Arise playing heavy rock riffs for the small assemblage of people. They were by far living the closest to the fest, residing just ten minutes from the grounds. They are a band with enormous potential and true thirst to learn and play together. Genetics is most definitely worth checking out live.

The Motet played a very different set than what I witnessed in Telluride a couple weeks prior. Once again this band is showing that they are one of the most versatile groups touring today. They shredded through almost two hours of electro-pop funkiness that turned into an all out dance party. Songs like “Closed Mouth Don’t Get Fed” and David Bowie’s “Fame” were obvious highlights from this crowd-pleasing set. Dave Watts continues to be one of the tightest and most dynamic drummers in Colorado. They were a great choice to play on the big stage at Arise. We wandered around in the darkness as the various art installations took different shape under spotlights. DJs and EDM Producers played in the Syntonic Stage area until the wee hours of the morning. Kan’Nal also took center stage before the night was over. There was a distinct flavor to the lineup and performances. Everyone seemed to have their space with the more popular groups playing the two larger stages. We headed back to the tent to get ready for Friday.

Under the ill advice of a disc tossing wookie, my friend and I drove up to Buckhorn for an early morning round of disc golf. He said it was about fifteen minutes up the road, which turned out to be just under an hour. Afterwards I jumped right back into it with Shimshai who is a crunchy acoustic singer-songwriter. He had reggae flair and powerful riff-heavy guitar work. Earth Guardians were one of the most impressive bands that I had not heard of prior to Arise. This group of young leaders spreads positivity and change through hip-hop. Lead by brothers Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez and Itzcuauhtli Roske-Martinez they sing songs like “The Hope Is In Our Hands” and “Live as if our Future Matters.” It’s obvious that the Earth Guardians are working at a more conscious level than most other nine and thirteen year olds. They have a bouncy, approachable style that is full of optimism and encouragement.

Fort Collins favorite Better Than Bacon was up on the Solar Overdrive Stage next. They have paired down to a straight forward power trio

“Welcome to the dust bowl.” –James Yearling

Dust only really became an issue under the thousands of feet of Franti fans as he urged them to jump and or move, but we’ll get to that. Bacon only got forty five minutes, which seemed to be pretty typical for the smaller stage. They opened with their take on a boogie jam with “Texas Tune.” The band sounds trimmer and more concise with just three members. Their set was enjoyable, but I was left wanting more. They also played originals “Pounding Nails” and “Loosing You.” On the Center Stage was Nahko & Medicine For The People. This was definitely the breakout surprise of Friday. Their acoustic bombardment is chalked full and energy and a real passion for life. Reminiscent of Rusted Root from an earlier time, Nahko leads a robustly talented group of musicians who seem very much in tune with each other onstage. With only an hour to perform they truly succeeded in leaving an impression on me. Great energy, great set.

I headed over to the press conference, which took on a very eclectic feel. Chali 2Na along Nahko & Medicine For The People would later be joined by Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez for some questions from the press. They discussed their music and eventually moved on to activism in a festival setting. Nahko talked about the variety at Arise and about his own group.

“We don’t fit into a genre, (Arise is) all types of genres and all types of vibes.” - Nahko

When the young Martinez arrived, he turned heads with his eloquence and wisdom. It was an enlightening event, but I left before the end to catch Greensky Bluegrass. This band has been on fire all summer long. They tour relentlessly and continue to play to larger and larger audiences. Bluegrass was scattered on the lineup so it was nice to see a band of this caliber on the Center Stage. Their set at Arise was yet another top-notch experience from a band that is becoming known for constantly delivering. Their progressive style of bluegrass has elevated them beyond the label of a simple touring string band. Greensky Bluegrass is a powerhouse in the world of bluegrass and their set at Arise was an example of just that. Up next Xavier Rudd took on the headlining slot for Friday night.

“I need to watch what I say… instead of say what I watch.” – Xavier Rudd

He is yet another musician who focuses on positivity and delivering a visceral live experience. Relying on percussive instrumentation primarily, Rudd can simultaneously blow on a didgeridoo and knock out a beat on the kit. He began his set solo, but was soon joined by another drummer. This gave him leeway to bust out a guitar and demonstrate his amazing skills as a multi-instrumentalist. He is Australia’s native son and he is a true ambassador of their indigenous music. His version of Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” was impeccable. This was a real highlight of my weekend at Arise. The night was rounded out with hippie hop favorite Chali 2Na. Perhaps it’s going back to his days with Jurassic 5, but 2Na is a member of an elite group of rappers that seems to have a real connection with jam and festival crowds. Artists like Big Boi and 2Na are well known in this realm and for good reason. Chali’s set at Arise was bouncy and a great way end my Friday. Music bumped on literally all night long with sets from The Magic Beans and Michael Menert.

Saturday saw a few more fresh faces that had made it for the final full day of the Arise Music & Arts Festival. I awoke in desperate need of a shower so I made my way over to them in general camping. I have to say this may have been the best festival shower experience I’ve ever had. As you enter, you are greeted by a Zen garden of cleanliness. Operatives offer to wash your feet as you wait for a stall to open. I declined, but it was a nice gesture. They cleaned each shower before use and were very attentive to their customers. It was a brilliant way to start my last day at Arise.

I spent an hour or so joining in an aerial photograph that reenacted the logo for the festival with human bodies. It was punctuated by a massive group hug before everyone floated on. I was disheartened to hear that Grant Farm had actually performed on Friday having switched set times with another band. I opted for some activism instead and went to the Sunrise Dome for a panel discussion with Daryl Hannah and Julia Butterfly Hill moderated by Rock The Earth’s Mark Ross. Hill discussed her harrowing experience living in the ancient redwood affectionately known as Luna for 738 days. Hannah talked about her work to stop the Keystone Pipeline for which she has been arrested twice. Mark asked intelligent and wide-ranging questions that covered both of their careers and work as activists. He also fielded a number of questions from the audience. The 90-minute talk flew by and it was time for She Said String Band. They are another local group with a very genuine approach to the bluegrass tradition. They had an almost wholesome sound that was truly inviting. TIERRO was back on the Center Stage with their fiery tribal beats. They were fun but musically Zap Mama was on another level. They are a self-proclaimed blend vocally of “Polyphonic” and “Afropop.” To me it was amazing harmonies backed by a sometimes-jazzy sometimes hip-hop flair. Zap Mama originates from Belgium and they have received international recognition for their tremendous sound.

Finally it was time for the main event in the form of Michael Franti and Spearhead. Having just played a show at Red Rocks, Franti is well loved and well attended here in Colorado. The fact that he was the festival headliner made perfect sense. Again his brand of positive, inviting performances is exactly what Arise seems to be all about. His use of funk, world, hip-hop and reggae stylistically in his music also demonstrates the eclecticism of the festival itself. How could Franti not headline the first Arise? His set was a series of fan favorites with a few newer tracks tossed in for good measure. Franti invited young Jayden Carlson up to the stage. At the tender age of six watching Spearhead, Carlson decided that she wanted to, “make people happy like that.” She had performed earlier in the day with her band and let me just say that kid can shred.

“It’s cool to be at Arise on the day it was invented.” –Michael Franti

Spearhead continues to be a high impact group capable of backing the full on musical assault of Franti. He regularly jumped off the stage and mingled directly with the crowd still singing into his wireless microphone. The enthusiastic crowd caused a serious storm of dust as they jumped and danced. Crowd pleasers like “The Sound of Sunshine” and “Life Is Better With You” energized the audience. The bassist took a turn at the microphone with a baritone rendition of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Family Affair.” They also ripped through a smoking version of “Say Hey (I Love You)” and teased the crowd with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” All in all it was one of the best shows I’ve seen from Franti and company.

We wrapped up our Arise experience with east coast favorite Twiddle. This band has a Phishy demeanor and rarely makes it out this far west. They are a powerfully talented group that played well into the night. They too invited young Jayden Carlson up to the stage to jam. Twiddle blasted through originals like “Doinkinbonk!” and “Box.” However the highlight of their set was a huge jam that included “Gatsby The Great” into “Big Country” into “Divided Sky” back into “Big Country” and back into “Gatsby.” This run featured some of the cleanest jamming I witnessed all weekend. These guys need to get out west more often.

The great thing about Arise Music & Arts Festival is that it is literally the “Choose Your Own Adventure” of music festivals. The experiences had by any given attendee have the potential to be incredibly different and varied. For the activist there was plenty of film screenings and discussions. For the burner that was plenty of electronic music and wholesome community interaction. For the music fan that was literally live music happening at any given time over the course of the 96 hours of Arise. There was obviously a nascent community beginning to form at Arise and I for one am interested to see how it grows. Not only is this something we are truly lacking in Colorado, but more importantly the organizers seem to have a solid road map by which to develop this festival. Time will tell if their ambition will match the overall outcome. I hope it does.

Nick’s Photo Gallery