The Everyone Orchestra 11.15.13

The Oriental Theater
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)
Audio By Corey Sandoval (Kind Recordings)

Everyone Orchestra Live at Oriental Theater on November 15, 2013.

In 2005, I had the incredible experience of performing at an open mic with a backing band of Scott Law, Tye North, and Matt Butler at Horning's Hideout. To this day, it is one of my favorite experiences I've ever had. Since then, I have seen each of the above perform in various projects. The one I have seen most often... Matt Butler's Everyone Orchestra. Basically, Butler has traveled around the country organizing jam sessions. Often he's played at festivals and simply pulled from the available musicians. Other times, he has hand picked musicians to hit the road and let it all fly. This past Friday night at the Oriental, he pulled together Furthur's John K. and Sunshine Garcia Becker, Particle's Steve Molitz, ALO's Lebo and Steve Adams, Elephant Revival's Bridget Law, the Disco Biscuit's Allen Aucoin, and the Euforquestra Horns. Those brave souls volunteered to follow Matt Butler's whimsy.

Butler communicated using a variety of hand motions, audience communications, and a small white board on which he wrote ideas. Familiar covers were peppered in between the lengthy improvisations and kept the show moving. Obviously with John K in the band, the grooves leaned on a Grateful flavor, but no one was complaining. John really was incredible to watch. His years of walking in Jerry's footsteps have taught him not only how to play like Jerry, but seemingly, how to think like Jerry. Even outside the context of a Dead or Jerry Band tune, he still seemed to play through the improvisations with Jerry's flair.

Steve Molitz has always been a monster behind the keys. His ability to mesh with anything from rock and roll to searing electronica was impressive. I'm accustomed to a Molitz dance party, but he showed his versatility by tearing up the Dead covers and jams. I have enjoyed seeing Molitz play every time I've seen him in the last 5 years. Stellar musicianship. He occasionally picked up the energy singlehandedly and kept the improvisations from falling flat. Allen Aucoin was another standout. His drumming went far outside the womp-tronica I expected from a Bisco drummer. I have enjoyed some electronica, but the key for me was variance. Allen proved he had the skills to keep it fresh all night. Though the jams occasionally dipped dance-party, it was mostly a groovy, organic, natural sounding night. He was versatile, metronomic, and inspired... all I could ask for in a drummer.

ALO provided an excellent rhythmic canvas between Lebo and Adams. They created a great framework for John Kadlecik and Steve Molitz to paint with vibrant strokes of sound. As the propulsion behind most of the songs, they were capable of following Matt Butler's instructions instantly and deftly. Did I mention they were brave? Sunshine brought a vibe to the show that was worldly. It was the land of exotic vocals and gypsy flute melodies to the table. Her energy was positive and the ethereal nature of her voice and instruments were soothing and intriguing. Euforquestra's horns and Elephant Revival's fiddle player Bridget Law added texture, depth, and flavor to the pot. Much like the spices in a recipe, they complemented the whole with nuances, subtleties, and hints that drove the flavor of the evening. Essentially, they were the salt and pepper, but more like the paprika, garlic, thyme, etc. And while their finished product wasn't necessarily Emeril quality, it was quite good home cooking.

Of the many different configurations of EO I have seen, this one was remarkably consistent throughout the evening. Sure, they dropped a groove or two, had a tough start here or there, but on the whole, I enjoyed 90% of everything they played. In fact, the one jam I was disappointed with picked up and took off within a few minutes (way to go Molitz!) and rarely lost speed through the end of the show. Everyone Orchestra delivered a unique, exciting, and inspired show at the Oriental. The confidence, ability, and bravery of each of the players was truly amazing. Matt Butler's ability to direct such musicians in interesting and entertaining ways was almost as remarkable as his ability to get the crowd to participate. The major thing I took away from it was that it takes special people to make the Everyone Orchestra work. It takes the immensely talented musicians and the tremendously adventurous listeners.

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