Thursday, January 30, 2014

Assembly of Dust and Floodwood 1.17 & 1.18.14

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock
Audio By Corey Sandoval (Kind Recordings)

Friday January 17th, 2014:

After an incredible start to their Colorado run in Fort Collins, Floodwood spent a few nights taking in the beauty of the mountains. They rendezvoused with east coast buddies, Assembly Of Dust, for a two-night stand at Cervantes. This is like a dream show for me. AOD is a rare visitor to this state on top of the fact that this was Floodwood’s first trip here as well. This show was brought to you by Jambase, ListenUp Denver and Marquee Magazine, not to mention the 11th anniversary of Cervantes. Sisters Of Soul, Ultraviolet Hippo, Atomga and Tori Pater’s Big Bad Band filled out the lineup over on the Other Side. The Great Guys featuring members of The Congress, Yamn and The Whales took the opening slot on the main stage. That being said it was also the same weekend that Railroad Earth booked two nights at the Fillmore just up Colfax. The RRE fan base directly intersects with the Floodwood and AOD audiences, in fact many of my friends opted to do a night of each.

We arrived as The Great Guys were finishing up their set. Scott Lane stood tall shredding the guitar as fellow member of The Congress, Chris Speasmaker, matched him at the keys. They wrapped and Floodwood quickly took the stage. They opened up with their instrumental “Whiskey After Breakfast” into their homage to the natural beauty of Upstate New York, “North Country Winds.”

Floodwood Live at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom on January 17, 2014.

Set One: Whiskey After Breakfast> North Country Winds, Anyone But Me, Holy Sacred, Chillicothe Clouds, Revolving Door, Long Way To Virginia, Stoney Creek, 9 lb Hammer*, Instrumental Jam*, Roll On, Stomp It, I Know You Rider, Follow You Into The Dark, In The Graveyard, Jazzy Jam, Cumberland Blues

*w/ Chris Pandolfi

This was a co-bill show with Floodwood drawing the opening spot for the first night. The boys from New York State treated us to ninety minutes of unadulterated acoustic bliss. The combination of their hard hitting originals “Holy Sacred” and Nick’s Summer Camp inspired “Chillicothe Clouds” was a big high point from a great set of music. Their moe.-esque “Revolving Door” gave way to their more traditional sounding “Long Way To Virginia.” Floodwood invited Infamous Stringduster, Chris Pandolfi, up to add his picking skills to the mix. This was the first of many unexpected treats from this band over the weekend. He sat in on the classic “9 lb Hammer” as well as an extended instrumental jam. Floodwood kicked it into high gear with “Roll On” and “Stomp It” before giving fans a bluegrass rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “I Know You Rider.” “Follow You Into The Dark” was a deep, Al sung romp about conquering fear with love. The band gave us “In The Gravelyard” before going into a jazz-infused instrumental tune. They closed their set with another Dead tune, “Cumberland Blues.” This was just a really fun set of music with bassist Zach holding it down along with Vinnie absolutely sticking it in the pocket. Al is always a focal point but the back and forth between Nick and Jason is not to be overlooked. This set was great, but it only did a little to foreshadow the epic-ness that would be their headlining set on night two.

Assembly Of Dust is such a rare treat in Denver. They just don’t tour too far beyond their home base in the Northeast. However, the last two years we’ve been lucky to get the band out for a night or two so maybe we are seeing a new trend. Formed by ex-Strangefolk front man Reid Genauer, AOD is an Americana band that plays with an emphasis on rock and roll. You could call them Heavy Folk… ehem. After a Kickstarter funded release of their latest album Sun Shot last year they seem to be open to playing around more. Since their initial formation they have had some turnover on percussion and keys, but the core three of Reid Genauer, Adam Terrell on lead guitar and John Leccese on bass has always the been same since their inception. Their show at Cervantes was everything that fans have come to expect from this underrated group. They opened with a sublime “Samuel Aging.”

Assembly of Dust Live at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom on January 17, 2014.

Set One: Samuel Aging, Bootlegger’s Advice, Weehawkin Ferry, Zero To The Skin, Man With A Plan, Tavern Walker*, Deal*, Sun Shot, Lost and Amazed, Truck Farm, All That I Am Now, Whistle Clock, Bus Driver, Roads,

Encore: 40 Reasons, Harrower

*w/ Al Schnier

Reid has an innate understanding of song craft as well as striking the right balance for ebb and flow. Peaks and Valleys are his specialty and the set got off to a rocking start with a forceful “Bootlegger’s Advice.” By this point the room was full with the upstairs being closed off. I’ve seen this done at other venues but not at Cervantes. It kept the kids on the floor and made sense given attendance. The dual ticket for the night also allowed people to float back and forth between shows at The Other Side. So at any given time half of the audience could be next door. That being said the majority of fans were there for Floodwood and AOD. Finally, the herd seemed fully assembled by “Weehawkin Ferry.” The band brought it down a little with the bouncy “Zero To The Skin.” AOD pulled out a classic with, “Man With A Plan” before they invited Al to sit in. The funk gospel sound of “Tavern Walker” exploded into a huge psychedelic jam with Terrell, Crosby and Schnier all trading licks. They transitioned into a crowd-pleasing version of the Grateful Dead’s “Deal.” Apparently it was that kind of a Friday night. Next we were given the delicately bluesy title track to Sun Shot before they went into the equally arresting “Lost and Amazed.” After a rowdy “Truck Farm” AOD performed what has become their anthem, “All That I Am Now.” I had been chatting with an older gentleman who told me this was the first Assembly of Dust song he ever heard and he fell in love. I could see that. Another long jam came with “Whistle Clock” which eventually gave way to sentimental “Bus Driver ” that featured Crosby’s violin. They closed their almost two hour set of music with a punchy “Roads.” They came back with a two-song encore “40 Reasons” into an incredible “Harrower.” It was a great night of music in Five Points. My hope is that the lighter turnout caused by the other show doesn’t sour the bands on performing in Colorado. It’s bound to happen in a place so saturated with live music opportunities. Not to mention that this is the time of year that winter and spring tours are in full swing. That being said it was a pair of top-notch performances from two bands who are a rarity in this state. Both Floodwood and Assembly Of Dust brought the heat. On night two they would trade places and things would get a little strange.

Saturday January 18th, 2014:

Night two was a literal flip of the coin with Floodwood taking the headlining spot and Assembly Of Dust supporting at Cervantes. Again we arrived as The Great Guys were wrapping up this time sans Chris Speasmaker. They were a rocking, rowdy group that seemed an odd amalgamation of all the bands that they were comprised of. I ducked next door to catch a bit of Ultraviolet Hippotamus and met up with J-Man and Carly from MM. We chatted briefly as the Michigan progressive rockers melted a little face with their fiery brand of jam. During set break back over at Cervantes we got a chance to do a little video with Floodwood for all the Summer Campers. I’d like to give a big thanks to Zach, the crew and the band that made it a quick and easy shoot. After a drink AOD was taking the stage. The room was about equally as packed as the night before. They opened with an incredible “Valhalla.”

Set One: Valhalla, Edges, Harrower, Vaulted Sky, Rachel, Elixir, Cluttered, Growin’, Love Junky, Arkansas Down, Honey Creeper, Second Song, Sinner, Speculator*

*w/ Al Schnier

Reid’s powerful vocals floated over the crowd as the night was flicked into second gear. The brooding “Edges” came next with its deliberate and straightforward progression. “Harrower” was nice, but “Vaulted Sky” went big. Crosby pulled out his violin for the hoedown that was “Rachel.” “Cluttered” was a simple rock tune off Sun Shot, but “Love Junkie” was a funky highlight. Adam Terrell has to be one of the most underrated guitarists in all of jamdom. His intricate picking along with his intense attention to detail combine to give him a leg up on most players. The bubbly track “Arkansas Down” is just another example of how strong Reid is as a songwriter. “Honey Creeper” was dark and raucous, but “Second Song” was all tenderness. They gave us a tight “Sinner” before they invited Al Schnier out for the set closing “Speculator.” Al and the boys joined in an embrace and took a bow before they all wandered backstage. Assembly Of Dust continues to be a high water mark in the world of Americana, Folk and Rock. Their knack for crafting infectious tunes, with intricate and substantial lyrics keeps me coming back. If given the chance, go see this band... you’ll thank me later.

Finally, it was time for the main event. Floodwood took the stage for what would be an epic three-hour throw down with several unexpected twists and turns. Jason led the charge on “Spend Some Time.”

Set One: Spend Some Time, Red Hill Road, Somewhere In Kansas, Spoon Kicks, Promised Land, Friend Of The Devil, Magnolia Row, You And Me, 315, Blue Eyed Son, I’d Fall For You, St. Regis, Hello Woman, Everything Here, Jambalaya On The Bayou*, Waiting In Vain*, Molly & Tenbrooks*^, Rocky Top*^, Working On A Building*^, Me And My Old Banjo*^

Encore: The Hobo Song

*w/ Briget Law
^w/ Tim Carbone and Andy Goessling

This set was an absolute barnburner for all those lucky enough to be in attendance. Railroad Earth had a sold out show at the Fillmore on Saturday, so it obviously hurt ticket sales a bit. Nonetheless, Floodwood delivered one of the best shows I’ve seen in quite some time. “Red Hill Road” demonstrated the bands bluegrass skills. The Al penned “Somewhere in Kansas,” about a road trip to Colorado after a TransAmericans show at the Iowa State Fair, invigorated the crowd. (Ironically I was as that show.) They proceeded to bust out the old TransAmericans track, “Promised Land.” We were all treated to another Grateful Dead tune, this time “Friend Of The Devil.” I like a band that’s not afraid to toss in a little Dead. The beautiful “Magnolia Row” is a bluegrass variation of the intro to moe.’s “Tambourine.” They performed the playful sounding “You And Me” before their homage to their hometown area code “315.” Floodwood pulled Al’s “Blue Eyed Son,” which has been in the rotation more on the road with moe. We got the Nick sung, "I’d Fall For You" which was a nice treat.

This is about the time where things began to get crazy. Al welcomed the lovely and talented Bridget Law from Elephant Revival to the stage. Law and Schnier got the chance to play together last summer at the Everyone Orchestra show that preceded Phish Dick’s. They went into Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Jambalaya On The Bayou.” Law and Piccininni battled back and forth on the fiddle before they went into Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain.” Suddenly, Al hands his guitar to Nick and races off the stage. The band continues with their bluegrass reggae stylings as a sound guy appears. It’s obvious some shit is going down. Al reemerges from the darkness as they finish the tune. Keep in mind is was already around 2 AM at this point. Al proceeds to welcome Tim Carbone and Andy Goessling from Railroad Earth to the stage. That’s right, we had a full-blown clusterpluck on our hands. And this was not the type of cluster pluck where 15 pickers stand around waiting for a solo. No, this was a pluck with laser beam focus and amazing stringed prowess. After some tuning and hand shaking they went into the traditional “Molly & Tenbrooks.” They blasted off into “Rocky Top” as the dwindled audience boogied. I looked to my tired wife and said, “You know I’d go, but… “ And she simply nodded in agreement. “Working On A Building” featured a three-fiddle standoff as Carbone, Law and Piccininni fired up their bows. Law retreated and let Carbone and Goessling finish up with “Old Banjo.” A solo Floodwood encored with “The Hobo Song.” Honestly, I may be missing a song or two in there, as the setlist kind of went out the window when you have so many welcomed guests. Needless to say the late night sit-ins were a lot fun and proof again of why Floodwood needs to keep coming to Colorado. They obviously have a lot of friends out here, Al is volunteer Ski Patrol in his home state, and Colorado loves bluegrass… I could go on. This was a spectacular night of music and a really unbelievable combination of bands to play in this great state. Happy 11th Anniversary Cervantes, let’s hope we have at least 11 more.

Nicholas' Night One Photo Gallery

Nicholas' Night Two Photo Gallery

Monday, January 27, 2014

MusicMarauders Presents: Trad-Plus (Chris Pandolfi) & Andy Hall of The Infamous Stringdusters

Denver, CO

Join us on Friday January 31st at Armoury in Denver, CO for MusicMarauders Presents: Trad-Plus (Chris Pandolfi) & Andy Hall of The Infamous Stringdusters! The show will include a set from Andy, a set from Chris and a duo set to close the evening! Tickets are only $12.00 in advance and include a free show poster with all pre-sales!

Purchase Tickets:

Pink Talking Fish 1.18.14

Quixote's True Blue
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)
Video By Erik Thoms

For the second time in the last few months, I had the opportunity to watch one of the most entertaining cover bands ever conceptualized. Pink Floyd. Talking Heads. Phish. That's all, just three epic bands with vast catalogues, psychedelic undertones, and ravenous fans. Pink Talking Fish chose some phenomenal material, then they arranged the songs in interesting ways that made for mind blowing setlists. With members of Particle in the lineup, it was no doubt the guys could play. They maneuvered through compositional sections and improvisations with confidence, skill, and style. They really were a joy to watch. It was fun knowing that no matter what they played next, I was going to like it.

Every time I have seen Ben Combe, I've been more impressed. His skill has developed, and he has emerged as a chameleon of sorts, easily recreating the notes and styles of several legends. On the surface, he seemed to have the most challenging job in PTF, and he has risen to the occasion. His fretwork was clean through incredibly difficult passages like the ones in Phish's "Punch You In the Eye," yet he was able to easily glide into "Breathe" by Floyd. While his tone was adequate, maybe even impressive given the venue, it was a little underwhelming for the material. All three guitarists, particularly Gilmour and Anastasio, played arenas with truly mammoth tone. The small venue sound took away some of the power.

Bassist Eric Gould was impeccable, providing the momentum and direction for the group. He was also capable of filling the shoes of Roger Waters, Tina Weymuth, and Mike Gordon at random. His casual demeanor throughout made it look like he was taking a stroll through a park. I saw him at the bar during set break, and told him I was sorry to hear he wasn't touring with Particle full time for this upcoming tour, but Eric was excited all around. With a new baby at home, a new project like PTF that he was beyond stoked about, and his excitement that Steve Molitz was getting serious with Particle again, Eric's cup runneth over. And that was nice to see.

Drummer Zack Burwick was synced up with Eric all night as they provided the groundwork for a creative and adventurous musical journey. Burwick worked tirelessly, sewing together transitions like a pair of patchwork pants. While he wasn't flawless, he was close. I've long held the idea that Fishman's rhythms were subtle yet extraordinarily complex and perhaps the most critical element to what Phish does. Holding together the level of improv Phish uses has always seemed to be the most impressive aspect of their legendary jamming. Burwick may not have hit every nuance of Fishman's compositions, but he was consistent, and generally hit the notes I expected. Drumming in this group didn't appear to be easy, but he made it seem like it was.

Ben Hutchinson was the last piece of this impressive cover quartet, adding the key parts of three of my favorite key players in music history. The thing I found most thought provoking of the night was the unsung nature of the keyboard players who inspired this show. Page McConnell (Phish), Richard Wright (Pink Floyd), and Bernie Worrell (Talking Heads) were three of the most creative, visionary, prolific, and talented musicians of the last 50 years, yet most households wouldn't be able to tell you who any of them were on name alone. But all three of those bands, and the influence they've had on other musicians, relied heavily on the keyboards to provide the textures, tones, and sounds that made their work iconic. Hutchinson, like Combe, made a valiant effort to recreate the synths and boards in high fidelity, but something about the small room sapped a bit of the intensity from the sonic renderings.

I left Quixote's satisfied. As I walked 13th Ave back to the car, I found myself having a déjà vu experience. I recalled thinking the same thing I thought the last time I saw them ... The band was fantastic, b they needed some sort of lighting accessories. Pink Floyd and Phish both accentuate their songs with lights, props, stunts, and more. The least this band could have done was buy a small laser projector from Spencer's or something. Other than their lackluster visual aspect, the band was really a treat to watch, bending hypothetical musical dreams into reality at my favorite watering hole. Really, what more could I ask for?

Brad's Photo Gallery

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Zeta June with Tallgrass 1.16.14

Avogadro’s Number
Fort Collins, CO

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock

Two-time Summer Camp alumni Zeta June came to Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins for a night of resolute dance music. They brought along recent Colorado transplants by way of Iowa City, Tallgrass along for the ride. Avo’s is a less known yet highly regarded oasis for live music. Unfortunately, each time I’ve went to shoot a band there the turnout has been sparse. This night was no different. I arrived and found a seat up front. Tallgrass came on promptly at 9:30 PM.

As they played, the room was almost uncomfortably silent. From time to time I tried to break the palpable calm with limited success. Tallgrass calls themselves, ‘Dirt Stomping Soul;’ I would add that they are an utterly rare intermingling of folk, gospel, indie, bluegrass, and more. To say that they are an original musical undertaking would be quite the understatement. Tallgrass is eloquent almost poetically jazzy in their delivery of said ‘dirt.’ Adam Morford blends elements of African and World percussion with more traditional rock and folk beats. They went into their captivating original “Never Try.” Adam’s drums were a distinctive juxtaposition to Matt Skinner’s raspy but clean vocals here and throughout their hour long set. Adam’s brother Austin Morford rounds out the band, he is a tight pocket bassist and holds it all together. They gave the crowd chills with an acapella version of the African traditional spiritual “Down To River To Pray” as the noiseless crowd stepped out the beat on the hardwood floors. They immediately went into the title track off their new album Better Than Medicine. They seem to be pushing into a slightly heavier sound utilizing all the rhythmic focus that this power trio has to offer. There set was a great way to spend a Thursday night and we still had the headliner.

Zeta June is a much different beast than Tallgrass. In fact, the only real connection musically is their roots in Iowa City. I went to school at the University of Iowa and I can tell you the area is a bastion of music in a relative desert for good live shows. So it makes sense that both of these original acts would come from there, even though their sounds may not really mesh well. By this time there were about 20 people in the room many of them there for Zeta June. A large led light background had been constructed, which gave off a very different vibe than Tallgrass’ acoustic set. Zeta June is a dance focused jam band that dabbles in electronic and funk with a solid rock foundation. Their set at Avogadro’s did a lot to show the variety of music that they can perform live. Originals like the boisterous “No Tell Motel” and a rocking “Resume To Consume.” We were treated to a spot on rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” At one point they ripped into a huge EDM inspired song utilizing some snap beats and spacey jams.

“That’s our version of the dubsteps.” – Zeta June

Overall it was a great night of Iowa music in the heart of Fort Collins. I look forward to Tallgrass working their way deeper into the local scene. Since their arrival late last summer they’ve only had the opportunity to play a handful of shows here. My hope is that people will begin to realize how original and fun this band is. Zeta June continues to be a young and dynamic group that fuses diverse genres of music together incredibly well. Both of these bands are definitely worth your time and consideration.

Nicholas' Photo Gallery

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Railroad Earth 1.17.14

The Fillmore Auditorium
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

The weathered barn was at the end of a windy road. It's drafty, abandoned, dusty contents reflected long forgotten hoedowns, and barn parties. The smell of hay and wood were sensory compliments to the broken, battered, and rotten remnants of pitchforks and shovels, banjos and fiddles. As the years passed, the instruments were ultimately buried in a field behind the barn. Then one spring, the sun and rain brought sprouts from the ground, and up grew the most organic band in all the land.

That was how I like to imagine Railroad Earth was formed.

Truthfully, Friday night I thought they really sounded like a farm. Each player was a different flavor from the garden, and took turns seasoning the songs. From time to time, there was a pretty tasty soup cooking. On the other hand, there were some downfalls to being so terrestrial. For starters, from an entertainment perspective, I never felt like any bounds were pushed. Everything had the feel of a bunch of friends going through the motions rather than a band that was trying to "turn on our own heads." Unfortunately, there were points where I would have been similarly entertained by listening to some background music and watching the produce aisle at King Soopers.

That was a little harsh. It's not that I don't appreciate Railroad Earth. I have seen them raise the energy through the roof, but those moments seemed to be few and far between. It was a shame that the energy wasn't sustainable, because Tim Carbone's fiddle playing and Todd Sheaffer's songwriting were truly remarkable. Carbone also seemed to be the most down to earth musician I have ever met. His whole purpose seems to be to spread goodness and joy. If it weren't for Tim, I doubt I'd have seen this band more than once. The community that supports RRE was friendly, jovial, and really fun to be around. They were a noticeably more polite, refined jam-band crowd... Not the typical spunions I have regularly encountered at some of my favorite haunts. In that regard, the show was far more pleasant to enjoy than some. It reminded me of a String Cheese Incident crowd before the electronica influence.

Perhaps I've been spoiled. I have seen hundreds of shows, many of them featuring virtuosos, poets, and artists of staggering talent and ambitious showmanship. Not every band was intended to blow the doors open, knock you backwards, and melt your brain. Some bands were meant to provide a mellow mood. When it comes to songs of substance to ease your mind and soothe your soul, RRE hit the mark.

I stayed through the encore, "The Promised Land," which seemed to be the perfect ending to the night. The lyrics, "we will all be together for ever and ever when we make it to the promised land," said more about the RRE experience than I could hope to convey... It put into words the idea that I had been thinking about... That this band was as much about the community that grew around it as it was about the music. There was a real feeling of family, and hope that if we all stuck together, we would be able to see a brighter day. That's the beauty of Railroad Earth and why they have been successful. At the end of the day, all they really do is try to put some feel-good music in the air, and brighten your day a little bit. There's nothing wrong with that.

Brad's Photo Gallery

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Technicolor Tone Factory & Genetics 1.10.14

The 1up Colfax
Denver, CO

Words By Andrew Martin
Photos By J. Picard

Friday marked the third time I’ve gotten the opportunity to see a show at 1up Colfax, one of Denver’s newest and most unique concert venues. The first of these three shows was December 20th, 2013, for the Grand Opening show with Yamn and DJ Russo. The second show was, much to my delight, the Umphrey’s McGee Bill GrahUM III show (with a set from DJ Wyllys as an opener and setbreak). Finally, I attended the Technicolor Tone Factory show with an opening set from Genetics on the 10th of January, and after three incredible shows, 1up Colfax is quickly becoming a venue where I can fully expect to have a fantastic time.

Before stepping into the actual concert review, I think we’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you more about the venue that’s been open a mere three weeks. With the space from buying out the neighboring porn shop, 1up has developed a very welcoming room in which to have their shows, especially when compared to the expectedly crowded arcade section. Stepping through the chokepoint hallway opens up to a complete new world that is the venue. There’s a wide open floor with the sound booth about ¾ of the way back from the stage. A long bar covers the right hand wall, but doesn’t protrude so far out as to interfere with the crowd. A smoking section is directly to the left of the sound booth, along with the coat check. The floor of the venue slopes ever so slightly downward (somewhat sharper in the five feet closest to the stage), and the rail at the front has a ledge on which you can set your drink.

The overall size of the venue is similar to that of Cervantes’ Other Side, with a much lower ceiling. The stage is lower as well, and it certainly works to create that “small intimate venue” feeling. The stage lighting is very good as well. Their designers really did a great job of putting together a setup that can be flexible enough for a rock band or for a straight DJ show as far as the visuals are concerned. There are two layers of lights, one to specifically illuminate the band, and another set of spots/cones to give a good lighting designer room to work. As an added bonus, there is a set of illuminated bars behind the stage just to give a different feel to a song (they look great lit up when the stage lights are on blackout). Paul, Yamn’s lighting designer, puts on one of the better local light shows I’ve seen, and I obviously don’t need to speak to the talent of Jefferson Waful; both crewmen were able to well utilize the equipment they were given to work with to give a light show worthy of the bands.

The sound is the final thing we should discuss. The sound is clear, loud, and good. I can hear everything pretty clearly, and frankly, I don’t really notice a venue’s sound unless it’s extremely good or extremely poor. To recap, 1up Colfax is a small venue that was very well thought out, and while it’s a small venue, it does offer some big venue luxuries that add up to, well, a good time. Check it out, let us know what you think.

So now that we’ve set the stage, so to speak, let’s move on to the show.

Genetics opened up the show with a track that immediately danced among the full spectrum of jam rock, and that theme of flexing their musical cred carried on throughout the night. Genetics wore their influences on their sleeves: you could guitar tones from Lotus and prog rock dance parties (yes, you can dance to prog) in a similar vein to Umphrey’s. They held back a bit from bringing the real shredding rage, which I thought was a good move on their part. After grabbing everybody’s attention with very blatant, punctuated genre jumps in their first song, Genetics launched themselves into an electrojam dance party that more than sufficiently got the full crowd in swing. During the set, drummer Will Trask from Jaden Carlson band sat in on percussion, which I will happily report to have added an invaluable curtain of sound to the aural backdrop.

Genetics showed their strength as musicians and cohesion as a band by executing wonderful transitions between tunes, and even segueing from one well developed groove into sudden, abrasive hard rock riffs that left everybody guessing what was going to come next. The groove didn’t stop, even for Genetics. Near what we expected to be the end of the their set, guitarist Jeff Ervine gave the standard “last song” announcement, then surprised everyone (including himself and the rest of Genetics) that he apparently couldn’t read time and they weren't done, and ensuingly launched the band into several more tracks that were far from leftovers from an already-strong list. By the end of the set, I was very ready for the set break, but I told the friends I was with, “Honestly, I could handle another set of Genetics right now.”

I’ve only seen Genetics play in a couple of limited performances and with smaller audiences. They’re an act that is very fueled by the crowd in front of them, and when the crowd is feeling it, they’re feeling it, and it reflects in the music they’re playing. Friday night, Genetics was not the promising-but-underwhelming opener I’d seen in the past, but a band that came on stage with something to prove and the talent to show it. The set was an eclectic blend of the best parts of the rock/electro jam sound. Genetics did some good self advertisement in front of a pretty packed house. I know I’ll be more eager to see their name on a concert lineup going forward.

After the standard setbreak, Technicolor Tone Factory’s five members took the stage. Now, I’ve seen TTF open up for both moe. and Yamn, both big ol’ shredders, so I already had an idea of what I was getting into. Problem for me was that I had four nights of Umphrey’s McGee between Friday and the moe. show where I’d last seen Technicolor, and I have a bad habit of mistaking having a great time with seeing a great band. Once again, I’m pleased to say, I was reminded of why Technicolor Tone Factory is a band that I need to keep on my “make it a point to see these guys” list.

The tagline on TTF’s website is “Big Sound”, and I can assure you that it is no exaggeration. From the moment the house lights dropped until set break, the rock never stopped, and neither did the crowd. Technicolor kicked the door in with “Voodoo Man” into their rock ballad “Fun”, two gigantic tracks that pulled the entire crowd into the straight rock that TTF has built their musical fortress upon. Following Fun, we got to hear “Look Around” with a nice little “Super Mario Brothers Underground Theme” teaser right in the middle; a nice shoutout to the venue coated with 80s arcade icons.

The energy level showed no signs of waning as the band continued raging into their salsa funk tune “Jalapeño,” welcoming Will Trask from Jaden Carlson Band on percussion. “Jalapeño” haphazardly laid funk beats and mad bass riffs before the audience in preparation for “Funk 49.” On top of the funk that gives the song its namesake, 1up was treated to a guest appearance from the Denver jam scene’s favorite new surprise guest, Jaden Carlson, along with Eric Luba to round out the entire Jaden Carlson band on the stage. True to form, guitarists Taylor Frederick and Jarrod Guaderrama kicked guitar licks back forth between themselves and Jaden, each topping the previous until I was sure their guitars, the stage, and possibly my hair were going to burst into flames.

The set concluded with “Knuckle Puck” (that title alone should make any child of the 90s grin).

After a well-earned break, the band retook the stage with Will Trask rejoining on percussion, and the second set was opened up with “Funk Compass,” followed by an absolutely screaming cover of Daft Punk’s “Voyager.” This cover of “Voyager” not only showcased bassist Zach Jackson’s capabilities of laying down a groove and Greg Kallfa’s steady synth work on the keys, but it really demonstrated the band’s ability to take something rehearsed and really run into the wilds of improvised jamming. The builds are well framed by drummer Brian Lefever, creating the tension and anticipation that any big build has to capture to really pull the rage out of the fans. There aren’t many acts that can get me as a concertgoer raging anywhere near as hard as during that “Voyager,” and generally that act is Umphrey’s. So Kudos on that note, Technicolor Tone Factory.

After dancing through “Baboon Jacuzzi” and “Joanna’s,” TTF treated the crowd to another cover, this time of Steppenwolf’s classic “Magic Carpet Ride.” Following the energy level right into “Tasty," “B Funkentot,” and finally, tastefully, closed the set with “Can’t Stop Me Now.” The “Funkygrass” encore squeezed what dance party was left in the thoroughly rocked-out crowd.

All said, I can’t remember a time I’ve had so much fun at a Colorado local show. Many thanks to Genetics and Technicolor Tone Factory for providing Denver concertgoers with an absolutely blistering evening of Rock and Roll, and thanks to 1up Colfax for the low low ticket price of $0.00 to party in a very cool venue.

J's Photo Gallery

Monday, January 20, 2014

Floodwood & Gipsy Moon 1.14.14

Hodi’s Half Note
Fort Collins, Colorado

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock
Audio by Rob O’Brien

I have personally been harassing Floodwood’s management for the better part of the last two years to get them to come out to Colorado. Given Al’s predilection for skiing it’s kind of a no brainer. Ever since first seeing them at Summer Camp I have been smitten with their sound. Floodwood’s brand of punchy acoustic music anchored by two members of jam powerhouse moe. is the perfect fit for any music fan. So finally it was announced that Floodwood would be embarking on their inaugural tour of Colorful Colorado. Their schedule included a short run into the mountains before two nights with Assembly Of Dust in Denver. Their first stop was a Tuesday night in Fort Collins. The evening began with local acoustic favorites, Gipsy Moon from Nederland.

Gipsy Moon is an utterly fun experience. Their music imparts an impression of a romanticized nomadic existence framed by the kind of strings that you would hear around a roaring campfire. Silas Herman son of famed bandleader Vince Herman takes the silent lead. He is quiet on stage but he simply shreds on the mandolin. Live painter turned live musician, Mackenzie Page, is another focal point from this young but impressive group. Their set lasted about an hour before they disappeared into the darkness behind the stage.

Al came out and gave us all a warm welcome before informing us that this was in fact Floodwood’s first time performing in the state. They opened with a tight but twangy original “In The Gravel Yard.”

Floodwood Live at Hodi's Half Note on January 14, 2014.

Set One: In The Gravel Yard, Revolving Door, You And Me, Spoon Kicks, I Know You Rider, Mother, Long Way To Virginia, Caught, Blue Eyed Son, Waiting In Vain, North Country Winds, 315, Nine Pound Hammer, Spend Some Time, Somewhere In Kansas, Chillicothe Clouds, Holy Sacred, Stomp It, Roll On, Waiting For The Punchline

Encore: Old Banjo, Cumberland Blues

Given the fact that it was a Tuesday and turnout was decent but only approaching half capacity, Floodwood opted to play one long set of music. This included several tracks off their new album including “North Country Winds” and a sublimely rowdy “Stomp It.”

“Every time I come to Colorado I can’t help but wonder why the fuck I don’t live here.” – Al
However, the big news of the night was the release of their new live album This Is Live, which was available for purchase for the first time. Traditional bluegrass renditions of “Long Way To Virginia” and Merle Travis’s “9lb Hammer” took on a fresh feel while maintaining their nostalgic roots. We were treated to Al’s tribute to his autistic child “Blue Eyed Son,” which has become a regular on moe. set lists as of late. Covers like Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain” and The Grateful Dead’s “I Know You Rider” were sprinkled in throughout the set for good measure. Nick Piccininni absolutely tore up his original instrumental “Chillicothe Clouds” which was a tune he wrote about his first experience at Summer Camp Music Festival.

“Pretty good for a Tuesday Night, pretty good for any night really.” – Nick

The audience was definitely comprised of a lot of moe. fans that spent time yelling out silliness like, ‘Play Rebubula.’ Overall, the crowd was pretty attentive and definitely appreciated of the music. They closed with an amazing acoustic version of “Waiting For The Punchline.”

Floodwood returned for a two-song encore. First up was the bouncy “Old Banjo” followed by a bluegrass interpretation of the Grateful Dead’s “Cumberland Blues.” According to the setlist the last song was an audible. This was a top-notch night of music from two of my new favorite bands. Gipsy Moon is definitely worth catching live whenever possible. Floodwood is an acoustic barnstormer that can’t help but impress music fans across this great country. I for one am thrilled that they finally made it out to Colorado. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of a new tradition for Floodwood.

Nichols' Photo Gallery

Friday, January 17, 2014

Chick Corea & Bela Fleck 1.16.14

Newman Center
University of Denver
Denver, CO

Words By J. Picard
Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot)

The University of Denver sat quiet following a day of classes that included Bela Fleck conducting a workshop for music students. The Newman Center was illuminated in anticipation of the evening's performance. The grand lobby with its high ceiling, large archways and glorious stairs was staffed with two bars that included a selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks. Additionally there was a full four window box office and a band merchandise table. Elderly folks mingled as the the seven o'clock hour approached. A sort of chime sounded alerting folks that the show would be starting as they poured into the main concert hall. Ushers lead the way to assigned seats with fantastic vantages of what would be a most technical performance. The lights dimmed as a gentleman took the stage to set some parameters and fill in the capacity crowd on a plethora of upcoming events. Shortly to follow he introduced the evening's featured masters.

The duo took the stage in a jovial fashion, joking about how Chick was excited and the root of his excitement was that Bela would be having no fun. Following an exaggerated shuffling of papers and some avant garde taps on the banjo, the show was underway. The mood was light, though the music was heavy technically and emotionally, digging deep into incredible emotion filled melodies and progressions. First set selections included a song for Bela's wife entitled "Waltse For Abby," as well as a song Bela wrote in the early hours of a morning in an airport awaiting a flight home to be with his newly born son, "Juno." Through mind blowing compositions came light-hearted banter, presumably to balance out the somewhat inaccessible nature of the classical genre of music. The duo also performed a song that chick wrote to perform with Bela, "Joban Dna Nopia," who communicated how much that meant to him. Chick suggested that their melodies were illegal, to which Bela replied "A lot of things are legal in Denver." Almost an hour on the dot after the the set began, it came to a close with folks shuffling back out into the lobby. While many ordered another round of drinks, some remained in their seats instead opting for a good book or a few minutes to rest their eyes.

Set two opened with a great story about Stevie Wonder recommending to Chick that Chick play some of Stevie's material. The result that evening was a Bela and Chick's take on "Overjoyed." Chick also introduced a piece by a composer that John McLaughlin had brought to his attention, Henri Dutilleux. The combination of intertwining melodies and rhythms from such proficient musicians captivated the sold out room at all times, commanding gasps from the crowd. Selections from their album included the titled track, "The Enchantment," as well as Chick's "Children Song #6," and the set closer, Bela's "Spectacle." The duo returned to the stage for their encore and kept the momentum going with continued musical risks executed with ease.

Through two one hour sets, Chick and Bela performed masterful compositions to a sold out and appreciative crowd. Each arrangement demanded an incredible level of focus, knowledge and intuition. The overall performance was casual greatness, as many had never witnessed such skill delivered so nonchalantly. Without a missed note or a noticeable missed cue, Chick and Bela engaged one and other evoking a level of connection and chemistry typically unseen. The result was nothing short of spectacular. As the crowd filed out of the auditorium, there was a certain excitement in the air. Regardless of age or musical background, the evening's performance may have been the performance of the year if not a lifetime.

Kevin's Photo Gallery

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Umphrey's McGee 12.31.13

The Fillmore Auditorium
Denver, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split open & Shoot)

Coming off of an epic night of music at The 1up the previous evening, our palates were soaked and ready for three massive sets from Umphrey's McGee. There were a lot of places that we could have chosen to be that night, but really only one option in our mind. Outside of The Fillmore, we opened up our envelope of media credentials to find additional tickets for the sold out show. With all of our friends already with tickets or inside, we made a few peoples' night. Entering The Fillmore the searches were thorough, causing the line to extend as far down the block as I've seen it go. Once inside, we purchased a couple of $10.00 beers and made our way to the floor to carve out some space. The floor was packed with folks dressed in classy attire, costumes and boasting all sorts of random accessories. As my attention shifted to the stage, UM saddled up and the crowd roared loudly knowing even before the show started that they had made the right choice of NYE destinations. What songs would UM play? What sort of surprises did they have in store for us? Would we survive? Rage ensued.

Set one began with "Le Blitz" and some menacing foreshadowing that opened up quickly. The band began shredding almost immediately, reflecting less patience and more intention from the previous evening, before transitioning into "Phil's Farm." Shred quickly turned to rockabilly with vocals followed by prog breaks and some finger picking. The grove was left to Ryan Stasik as the composition split into improvisational bliss with a heavy serving of tonal exploration from all involved. The band peaked heavily with Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss ripping apart their guitars. The jam turned towards an interesting breakdown before resolving and going into "Ocean Billy." The intro, as always, included some heavy Jake riffing while Kris Myers and Andy Farag created a solid percussive grove. Brendan took over on vocals with a good portion of the sold out crowd joining in. Soaring guitar was met with more guitar in a peaking overload of joyus music. A sort of ambient ensued over with Jefferson Wafful not missing a beat on the lights. Many say he is the best in the business and from what I saw that night (and every other night), I wasn't going to argue.

We were thirty five minutes into the show before the band slowed down for a break and the capacity crowd showed their support.

"Happy New Year's Eve everybody. Thank you so much for choosing to spend your time with Umphrey's McGee, we intend to make it worth your while," Bayliss said with great fortitude.

"Mail Package" began in a bluesy fashion and progressed into a noodly jam with vocals from Jake. Towards the end of the composition it took off, melting faces and showing strong range. We were not prepared for what came next, as it was early in the set.

"This is for all of you lovers out there," Bayliss said with a smile before the band dropped into "Wizard Burial Ground."

The rage was almost too much to handle. The Fillmore exploded into insanity as small pits developed and people threw down. The screeching dual guitars were torn apart by insane drum work that left the people around us scrambling for some sense of reality. It was a glorious moment with overwhelming intensity and complete destruction before Joel Cummins stepped in to clean up the figurative mess with a heavy synth. The intensity cooled, if only briefly for Joel to solo on the piano. One by one the drums entered, followed by flawless guitar. Again, the music grew furiously with a terrifying resolve to chaos and back. Every time the song seemed to wind down, it entered a new segment or arrangement.

Bayliss welcomed Mad Dog and his Filthy Little Secret to the stage featuring Jeff Coffin and a couple of other gentleman on horns. "Bad Friday," a new song that the band debuted that evening followed. The horns chopped hard in funk fashion adding an incredible layer to an already phenomenal output. High pitched vocals further contributed to the funk feel as the horns took off in three part madness. "Bad Friday" concluded the first of three sets as the lights came up. The first set was great and reflected a band at the top of their game. It was clear they were enjoying themselves in Colorado and the Denver crowd intended to do the same.

"How are you doing, Colorado?" Bayliss inquired, returning to the stage. "We got two hours left of 2013, so you got to make it count people, alright? You gotta try a little harder."

"Smells good out there" Jake stated.

"40's Theme" kicked off set two with a massive climb and a horn section on fire. Jake and the horns matched perfect tones before jumping into his vocal responsibilities. Entertaining Bayliss rapping turned back into heavy riffing and shred. Lounge style space jazz transformed the Fillmore into a dance hall as solos were passed around the horn section. Minds were blown and if we were in a swanky motel, babies would have been made to the sweet sounds of Mad Dog's Filthy Secret. "13 Days" came next changing time signatures at the drop of a dime. The horns exited the stage and UM debuted "Twilight Zone" by Dutch rock band, Golden Earring. Beyond killing their own material, Umphrey's covers a wide range of material dissecting the songs with flawless respect and honor while adding a hint of UM to the mix. In the middle of "Twilight Zone" the band teased Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train!" Complete and utter music devastation ensued before returning to the original cover.

"So, I'd like to dedicate this next song to a good friend of mine who's name is Dave, he's out there. He taught me how to play 'Stairway To Heaven' and I was in a band with him in high school and in college and they kicked me out of the band in college. Then I met Pony and we wrote a song call 'Hajimemshite' and here we are now. So, Dave, this one's for you," Bayliss said offering a glimpse into his musical past.

"Pay The Snucka" began with "Stairway To Heaven" teases before going into the band breakdown. The middle section had sort of an electro jamtronica feel with wailing space synth and staccato guitar. Everyone dropped out and all that was left was Jake wailing flawlessly surfing through arpeggios, before UM dropped the heat again. Another pit broke out in front of us, only calmed by Joel's note bending synth solo. As he did the night prior, Joel rose to the occasion, impressing the hell out of me. UM thrashed towards the end of the song and then thrashed some more.

"That's Joel Cummins, the keyboard wizard, people," Bayliss stated accurately.

Meandering guitar quickly turned to shred for a few bars before falling back to the original slow build of "Utopian Fir." Tension built through crazy musical tangents and intentional stuttering and slipping guitar. The band climbed, peaked, returned to the valley and peaked again before resolving to the song's reggae riff. Dub laden effects created another sonic circus for a brief moment. "Utopian Fir" transitioned into "Booth Love" with fitting flow and the return of the horns. A funky jam over took the mid section of the song, elevating an already great composition withe danceability.

"Are we having fun yet, Colorado?" Bayliss asked. "We'd like to dedicate this to all of our friends back home in the mid-west. It's officially New Years there, so... Hold on people, we still got an hour," he responded to elevated excitement in the crowd. "This one goes out to all the east coast and mid westerners who are already in 2014!"

"No Diablo" kicked off in cheery pop fashion, triggering smiles and dancing from the stoned crowd. The horns added quite a bit and a short five minutes after it began, it was over. To close the second set Umphrey's and the horns dove into Phil Collins' "Sussudio." Again, the cover was perfect and so well executed. The packed Fillmore danced carelessly, in true celebratory fashion.

"Thank you all very much! Enjoy the last of 2013. We got one more set, so pace yourselves people," Bayliss said with fair warning.

Smiling, wide-eyed, intoxicated Coloradans hugged and celebrated the final minutes of 2013 furiously. A short time later the band returned for the transition into 2014 and an insane third set, which began with "Hurt Bird Bath." The transitions were as impressive as always, with the band nailing every cue. As a fan of HBB, I must say, this may have been my favorite version of all time. It seemed so polished, perfect and so well executed. More heavy output from Joel was welcomed as Bayliss called out the five minute warning. Thick jamtronica coupled with screaming horns built to epic heights as Bayliss counted it down. Balloons and confetti fell from the rafters as the band transitioned into "Auld Lang Syne." Balloons exploded sounding like cannons in between songs.

"Happy New Year, Colorado. We're so glad you chose to spend your time with us," Bayliss said.

UM debuted Funkadelic's "Hit It and Quit It" for its first full selection of 2014. Heavy horn work weaved in and out of screaming vocals. The jam was extremely funky and featured the horn section at their best. "Wappy Sprayberry" came next to the delight of the loose crowd. As expected, the song hit epic heights before crashing down in incredible resolve. "Wappy Sprayberry" transitioned into "Miss Tinkles Overture," reflecting a sort of modern day battle hymn as UM marched to the front line with an insane arsenal. The mid section got about as low as the band had gotten that night, in an attempt to take on one of the biggest climbs of the evening. Bayliss stepped up and threw down some of his newer improvised sounding lyrics to the mix, before the climb continued. A barrage of sound assaulted the Colorado crowd as Umphrey's set it up and knocked it down repeatedly. I was in awe by what we continued to witness that evening as I had never seen anything like it.

Mad Dog's Filthy Little Secret was brought back out for "Bridgeless," leaving no room for a lull. Every time the crowd would expect a left hook, they would catch a right from the band. Just when the crowd thought they had the band figured out and knew what was coming next, UM would lay them out with a massive uppercut, figuratively putting The Fillmore on its back. "Bridgeless" went directly into Howard Jones' "Thing Can Only get Better," with a sweeter sentiment to debut the song. A funk swagger paved the way for Bayliss to lay down some sensual vocals, complimented by the horns. Once again the crowd was treated to the return of "Bridgeless," to close the wildly impeccable set of rage. Before its conclusion the band once again peaked heavily and with incredible intuition all the way to the close of the composition.

UM returned to the stage for some hilarious banter and a congratulations to Colorado. Within' a few hours, the first legal sales of recreation cannabis would begin to take place. Following in the New Year theme the band launched into "Resolution" with a jump in their step and accompanied by the horns. The middle section included an "Auld Lang Syne" jam that was followed by some interesting chaotic breaks before heading into a debut of Kool & the Gang's "Funky Stuff." First the horns took off, then Joel with the guitars shortly to follow as the show wound to a close. The band thanked the grateful crowd and announced their return to Red Rocks this summer.

That evening reflected the incredible potential of Umphrey's Mcgee and upon the show's conclusion, I felt that everyone there owed the band more money. What the Denver, CO crowd witnessed that night was nothing short of greatness. Personally, I have never heard that level of high energy musical perfection and I have been seeing the band for over a decade. That evening was the greatest rock show that I had ever witnessed and arguably one of the band's best performances, if not the best. In the days following Umphrey's New Years run there was a lot of discussion on the Colorado scene. Many were calling NYE UM's single greatest performance, while a handful of others focused on their experience in the intimate arcade. It felt good to fall in love with a band again and to see a room full of fans get their money's worth from a band that continues their climb to the top. Thank you, Umphrey's McGee!

Kevin's Photo Gallery

Umphreys McGee Live at Fillmore Auditorium on December 31, 2013.

Set One: Le Blitz > Phil's Farm > Ocean Billy, Mail Package, Wizard Burial Ground, Bad Friday[1]

Set Two: 40's Theme[2], 13 Days[2], Twilight Zone[3], Pay the Snucka[4], Utopian Fir > Booth Love[2], No Diablo[2], Sussudio[5]

Set Three: Hurt Bird Bath[6] > Auld Lang Syne[2], Hit It and Quit It[7], Wappy Sprayberry[8] > Miss Tinkle's Overture[9], Bridgeless[2] > Things Can Only Get Better[10], Bridgeless[2]

Encore: Resolution[11] -> Funky Stuff[12]


[1] debut, original; with Mad Dog's Filthy Secret horns
[2] with Mad Dog's Filthy Secret horns
[3] debut, Golden Earring; with Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne) teases
[4] with Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin) tease
[5] debut, Phil Collins; with Mad Dog's Filthy Secret horns
[6] with Day Nurse tease; unfinished; with Mad Dog's Filthy Secret horns
[7] debut, Funkadelic; with Mad Dog's Filthy Secret horns
[8] with Den teases
[9] "Jimmy Stewart" with lyrics
[10] debut, Howard Jones; with Mad Dog's Filthy Secret horns
[11] with Auld Lang Syne jam; with Mad Dog's Filthy Secret horns
[12] debut, Kool & the Gang; with Mad Dog's Filthy Secret horns

Preview: Pink Talking Fish Colorado Run

Colorado, USA

Join Pink Talking Fish featuring members of Particle on their Colorado run which kicks off on Thursday January 16th at Three20South in Breckenridge, then continues on Friday January 17th and Saturday January 18th with DeadPhish Orchestra at Quixote's True Blue in Denver, CO!

Purchase Tickets For THURSDAY at Three20South:

Purchase Tickets For FRIDAY at Quixote's true Blue:

Purchase Tickets For SATURDAY at Quixote's True Blue:

Monday, January 13, 2014

The String Cheese Incident & The Del McCoury Band 12.31.13

1stBank Center
Broomfield, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock

After a night of couch tour with the Phish from Vermont on the 30th my wife and I rounded out our 2013 with a night of String Cheese. This was the third evening with Cheese for the truly faithful fans. It’s always a little bit odd jumping in at the end of a three-night run. It can make you feel sort of like a tourist, but I stand by my decision to peruse all of what New Year’s had to offer this year. I mean where on the planet is it even an option to see SCI, Yonder, or Umphrey’s all playing separate headlining shows within twenty miles of each other. The simple fact that I had to make that choice makes me thankful to live here on the Front Range.

Fans had been scurrying around for several weeks leading up to the event trying to procure tickets but the large number of fingers pointed towards the sky meant that many were not successful. The show itself had been sold out for well over a month suggesting that many would-be attendees were going to be left out in the cold. Once inside the elaborate costumes and bedazzled fairy wings dotted the hallways that surrounded the floor. The announcement that Del McCoury Band would be on the bill came late, but it was definitely celebrated by those with tickets in hand. The elder statesman of bluegrass and his band began as the fans filtered in to find their spot to watch the ball drop. They ended up performing just short of an hour. Del garners so much respect as a musician and ambassador for string music. His band includes three of his children whom he obviously raised right. All in all it was simply a prelude to the sit in that was to come very shortly.

When the String Cheese Incident came out for their first set they brought along the entire Del McCoury Band. Kang pointed out that every time they play with Del, he out dresses them. Well with all of SCI decked out in tuxedos, that would not be the case for at least this show. They opened with a stunning “Rolling In My Baby’s Arms.”

Set One: Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms*> Shenandoah Breakdown*, Cold Rain and Snow*, Birdland**> Wheel Hoss**> Birdland**, Give Me the Love> Way Back Home, Valley of The Jig

Set Two: Water, Colliding> Sirens, Windy Mountain> Stay Thru, Las Vegas> Desert Dawn

Set Three: Rivertance> Happy New Year, Let’s Go Outside> Smile, Drums> It Is What It Is, This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody)> Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band> Jam> Just One Story

Encore: Colorado Bluebird Sky

*w/ Del McCoury Band
**w/ Jason Carter and Ronnie McCoury (Fiddle and Mandolin)

For many fans that love the Cheesy bluegrass, this was the perfect start to the evening. They immediately went into Bill Monroe’s “Shenandoah Breakdown.” However it was the Del sang version of “Cold Rain and Snow” that gave us all collective goose bumps. Del left, but Jason Carter and Ronnie McCoury remained on fiddle and mandolin respectively. The band seemed to burst into a stellar version of “Birdland” that disintegrated into an all out hoedown with “Wheel Hoss.” Carter absolutely tore it up on the violin before they returned to the “Birdland” where they began. Carter and Ronnie McCoury took a bow before they disappeared backstage. Kang wowed the crowd with an almost poetic “Give Me the Love” that seemed to end too quickly. After a clean segue they went into a massive “Way Back Home” before they closed the first set with an equally impressive “Valley Of The Jig.” This set went barely over an hour, but with two more to go I didn’t hear any complaints.

String Cheese came to the stage for set two with a powerful “Water” that just seemed to wash over the audience. Bathed in the blue light, fans danced enthusiastically to sweet sounds of the Cheese. Kyle finally got a chance to shine on his energetic “Colliding” before they went into a dark and funky “Sirens.” One of the biggest highlights of the show came with the Nershi led “Windy Mountain” which is always a treat. This was only the fourth time they’ve played the reggae-tastic “Stay Thru,” which was a very nice breather. “Las Vegas” has become a huge vehicle for Nershi to experiment with, much like “Jelly Fish” was in the early days of SCI. This rendition went to the dark side pretty quickly, with some tight and extensive give and take between the entire band. They closed with a classic version of “Desert Dawn” that seemed to shock the crowd into a dancing frenzy.

String Cheese returned just before the clock struck midnight. What followed was a massive spectacle, the type of which SCI has been providing to fans for years now. This was a bit different though; let me attempt to explain. The band returned as the lights dimmed. They launched off into a huge “Rivertrance” that began slowly enough for all the players to get into position. A large lighting rig with a net descended from the ceiling that contained dancers and other visual performers. Women adorned long flowing dresses ensconced themselves in clear plastic bubbles that blew around confetti like one of those cash grab machines. Pairs of women climbed long silk ribbons that hung from the ceiling and treated us to a series of aerial acrobatics that would have looked proper for any Cirque du soleil show in the world. Fans on the floor were given small color changing batons that they immediately began swinging in unison. The lights splashed all over the crowd as Father Time appeared by the soundboard and began spraying sparks from a handheld tube. Pyrotechnics appeared behind the band as balloons and massive amounts of confetti descended upon the 6500 person room. 2014 had begun and the band played on. As they finished “Rivertrance” they paused and invited Del and the boys out to the stage for a toast. Billy welcomed the New Year, as everyone seemed to take a collective breath. Kyle came to the microphone for a very appropriate “Let’s Go Outside.” The band transitioned nicely to a welcomed “Smile,” before Michael Travis and Jason Hann gave us an elaborate drum jam. It may have gone interstellar a few times. The drums gave way to a bouncy, “It Is What It Is.” We were then treated to a pair of sentimental covers. The first was Kyle’s now classic take on the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place” which is traditionally his nod to the hometown crowd. Next, Cheese performed The Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” to signify their twentieth year as the String Cheese Incident. Referring to their very earliest days when for New Year’s 1993-94 Michael Travis sat in completing the original core of the band. They proceeded to improvise for a bit with something they labeled the “2014 Jam” on LiveCheese. They ended the third set with a stunning, but far too short, “Just One Story.”

SCI came back with a singular encore of “Colorado Bluebird Sky.” This song has truly evolved over the last couple years. Pardon the pun, but it really has gotten some wings allowing them to truly synch up as a group on this number. All in all it was a great night of music from a band that never strays too far from its roots. The inclusion of the Del McCoury Band was a solid decision and it gave Cheese the opportunity to really pick during their first set. The second set seemed to focus more on the long jam, while the third set felt like a celebration of all that this band has accomplished in their twenty years. The String Cheese Incident is and continues to be a vibrant lightening rod for music fans from across the spectrum. Their show on New Year’s Eve is just more proof that SCI is back at the top of the heap.

Happy New Year!

Nicholas' Photo Gallery

Magic Beans 1.4.14

Bluebird Theater
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

While a cold winter's night kept Colfax low key, the Nederland-based Magic Beans played their first headlining show at the Bluebird, and pulled an impressive crowd for their debut at the Denver theater. My only prior Bean experience was this past summer at State Bridge, and they were playing an acoustic set, billed as the Magic (String) Beans. I remember really enjoying that set, and I was excited to see the electric version of the band.

Before the show, i had the chance the ask a few questions of the band behind the beanstalk. I wondered what significance the band name had to them, and if anyone was a particularly big fan of the Jack and the Beanstalk story. Scott Hachey (guitar) offered, "It's a great story, but I wouldn't say anyone had any more of an affinity for this story than say "Harold and the Purple Crayon" or "Good Night Moon"...Hendrix always said 'Music is magic, and magic is life'…. it's actually written on the wall in Cervantes Masterpiece greenroom haha. But I truly believe that music and nature are the closest things to magic in the world so we wanted to include that word. Magic Beans gives off a natural vibe and relates to folklore, tall tales, and what not; which lots of our lyrics can resemble. The band name isn't really what's important though, we speak through our music."

At the Bluebird, I got a taste of that. While I wasn't completely sold on the vocals throughout the show, I was impressed with their improvisational abilities. When they took songs for a drive, I felt like I got to take in some scenery. Stylistically I really enjoyed the ground they covered, which made sense since I'm also a fan of their influences, "Floyd, Zep, Dead, Phish are tremendous influences on us. To get specific we dig new grass music like Leftover Salmon, String Cheese Incident, Sam Bush; we like contemporary funk like Lettuce, Soulive, Snarky Puppy. We dig some downtempo and well produced electronica. Classic rock is a big one, Iron Maiden, El Ten Eleven, Tipper, Greensky, Keller, so much good music. We like it all and our sound tries to encompass a lot of different feels."

I definitely heard the influences of Nederland's heavy hitters, with String Cheese Incident and Leftover Salmon vibes to several of their songs. Being a band from the the creative little foothill community, I was curious how the group formed and how long they'd been playing together. "We're over three years right now. We started while jamming out in Four Mile Canyon at a few of our house. Threw some pretty epic house show/parties with 200-300 people being bussed up from the Goose in Boulder by BTS. That got us a lot of encouragement to get serious and it was personal dream of mine to be in band so we made it happen. The Fox booked us our first shows as support and next thing ya knew we were headlining and going all over the country having a good time."

It was fun to see a band so excited to play music. Bass player Josh Appelbaum's enthusiasm was apparent by his face, but you didn't need to see him, you could hear it. Casey Russell's keys were really well balanced, and his use of different keyboard voicing and effects reminded me of SCI's Kyle Hollingsworth quite a bit. That also made sense, Casey recounted one of his most memorable shows was the torrentially wet Incident at Red Rocks last year. "Lots of energy."

The sound was enjoyable, and I found myself enamored once more by the allure of discovery. A major aspect that appealed to me was their drive. When I asked Hatchey what show of the Beans' was his favorite, he replied, "I think it just keeps getting better and better so I'm gonna say the next show is my best show ever, and favorite show ever, I hope." In a music world where I've often felt I've seen it all before, it's nice to discover a band that may have a brighter future than past.

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