Monday, March 31, 2014

Eufórquestra: Fire


Words by Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

Fort Collins-based music collective, Eufórquestra have been a regular act in the Front Range for a hot minute. I have enjoyed them on multiple occasions, usually in supporting roles. When they really got my attention was when they announced that one of my favorite musicians was producing their new album. Kyle Hollingsworth of the String Cheese Incident has entertained me to no end, and I knew that if he had signed on to produce the album, it was probably going to be good. That wasn't all that long ago, but sure enough, the band has completed the album which was released March 25th.

The title of the first track, "The Price is Right," intrigued me. With visions of Bob Barker crowding my head, the drums immediately set the tone for a funky cut. A super clean guitar dropped in with all the bounce of a Plinko chip. When the horns came in, the familiar Front Range funk emerged and I heard shades of Colorado's dance party machine, Motet. Even the vocals reminded me of Jans Ingber to an extent. I really liked the breakdown in the middle. The effected vocals provided a contrast to the otherwise uber-funky tune. The key change at the end of the track seemed unnecessary to me, but otherwise I was beginning to think that Eufórquestra might be the next contestant.

The title track followed. In a music market with so many similar products, this track helped define the band more for me. While still heavily rooted in Colorado's funk, the track strayed from the norm and incorporated some really cool rhythms and ideas. It felt more like a campfire than a raging inferno, but helped establish the compositional aspect of their style.

"Instant Coffee" was of particular interest to me because it featured keyboard wizard, and first time producer, Kyle Hollingsworth on keys. As the name implied, this tune put some pep in my step. The track had Kyle's signature organ and energy shining through. One thing I noticed during this track was the lack of ego in the band. Every member supported the sound in ways that served the music more than their ego. As a result, everyone had room to get in their licks. The Kyle solo was classic Hollingsworth jam material. The end of the song had some technical changes for variety, but didn't explore those themes as much as they could have.

"Road Funk" had some retro funk that conjured images of Prince, the Scissor Sisters, Jamiroquai, and more. The immaculate edge had a poppy finish, and really made this song more disco funk than the other tracks. The ripping guitar solo at the end caught me off guard and was a nice element to add to the mix.

"Moment 1" was a nice little reggae-infused segue... roughly a minute of chill tranquility in what was otherwise a Mardi Gras party of sound... Ahhh.

The transition to "Solutions" featuring Elliot Martin was excellent. The style shift was subtle and creative. The tune had a vibe somewhere between G Love and The Police. Martin's reggae/ rap fusion added another dimension to the song and continued to add more musical influences to the "Fire." "Wasted" took a more direct rock and roll approach, but still managed to add to the diversity and dynamics of the effort.

"Free" jumped out with a clavichord groove and I was excited to hear the familiar sound. When the vocals hit, I was reminded of Widespread Panic's John Bell with less rasp. The solo work, particular by the sax and guitar were really great on this track. The energy, interplay, and quality of their leads were on par with some of my favorite acts.

"Moment 2" was another brief interlude with a "Great Gig in the Sky" kind of feel. It was a perfect segue into "Take Me Dancing," which was enhanced by the gorgeous and talented Ms. Dawson (Motet( who brought some soul to the album, bringing it out of the streets and into the mood lighting of a club. With keys that reminded me of Joey Porter (also of the Motet), it was hard not to notice how influential the Front Range's musical offerings have been on molding their own blend of styles.

"Momo Lolo" was definitely an opportunity for the horns to get a moment in the sun. On what might have been the jazziest track, Gabriel Mervine's (Motet) trumpet was explosive. I wasn't sure which was more impressive, his high-caliber tone or his flawless chops. Rough combo. Ho ho.

"64-18" was funky with a sludgy feel. The sluggish rhythm was made far more interesting by vocals and horns that simultaneously brought 311 and Lettuce into my cranium. The unique pairing made for a really cool outcome. Once again, I felt the band's egoless approach allowed them to serve the music and really sound more like a rock orchestra than a rock band.

"Moment 3" was another interlude, this one shorter and more atmospheric. The feedback bled into the final track on the album, "All the Light I Need." The relaxed vibe of the song's reggae foundation fit with what seems to be a very friendly, well- intentioned, and talented band. The kind of band that worked well with Hollingsworth's production.

I was truly impressed with the entire album. I have always enjoyed seeing Eufórquestra live, but this album really showed me how dynamic and diverse they can be. Kudos to the band and Mr. Hollingsworth on an album that exceeded my expectations.

www.euforquestra.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mike Gordon Band 3.14.14


The Boulder Theater
Boulder, Colorado

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock
Audio by scottsch


Mike Gordon has long been the odd duck in the realm of Phishdom. His special management of the eccentric and love for the absurd has fueled various performances with Phish since their inception. The Mike Gordon Band lacks the restraint and possible filtration Trey, Page, and Fish bring to the table. What we are left with is a cross between an avant-garde live art performance and a rock show put on by some of the best musicians living on the east coast. The lineup is a veritable who’s who of the Northeast’s improvisational music scene. Mike is flanked by long time collaborator Scott Murawski who joined Conneticut’s Max Creek in the early 70’s at the tender age of just fifteen. Tom Cleary (not to be confused with Jon Cleary) is a faculty member at the University of Vermont and regularly plays with the group Jazzismo. Craig Meyers who recently left Rubblebucket to focus on other projects split his time on stage between percussion and playing his kamel n’goni. This is a stringed gourd from West Africa. Drummer Todd Isler, of International Orange rounds out the band on kit. The Mike Gordon Band show at the Boulder Theater had been sold out for weeks. There was a palpable excitement in the air when the night finally arrived and we found ourselves standing in line to get inside. The band came on just before 9 PM with “Dig Further Down.”

Set One: Dig Further Down, Yarmouth Road> Willow Tree, Anagatta, Spock’s Brain, Pretty Boy Floyd, Long Black Line, Rhymes, Face

Set Two: Different World, Ether, Meat, Another Door> Fly> Another Door, Peel> It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry*> Peel, Hap-Nappy, Mrs. Peel> Say Something, Cities, Tiny Little World

Encore: Barton Hollow

*First Verse Only

Torrent Available At bt.etree.org

Fans including myself have been watching the set lists as they are posted each night in order to better gauge the possibilities. With each new Phish song and cover we salivated at what we might get when it was finally our turn. “Yarmouth Road” made its appearance early on. Fans are fairly divided with some feeling it’s a bit sappy while others like myself find it fairly playful with an appealing underlying jam. “Spock’s Brain” has been taken out a few times prior to the Boulder show, but it was far and away the peak of the first set. Historically when Mike has pulled out some classic Phish gems to perform on his tour they have bounced back into Phish’s rotation. Time will tell if that’s the case with “Spock’s,” which hasn’t been played by the boys from Vermont in 244 shows and never in 3.0. Throughout both sets we were treated to a wide sampling off the new album Overstep including “Long Black Line” and the set closing “Face.”

Throughout the entirety of the performance Mike and company used various bits of gimmickry to put their own finesse on each tune. Everything from illuminated guitars to effects pedals on the microphone stands activated by a flick of a finger were utilized. Also, flashlights and massive projectors were part of the production. The front of the stage featured an interactive series of pads for fans to ‘play’ along with the band. Though I didn’t see it activated in Boulder, to the untrained eye this could seem like superfluous flashiness. However, with Gordon at the helm all this and more seems absolutely standard. A funky “Meat” punctuated the beginning of the second set. A rocking "Another Door" disintegrated into Sugar Ray’s 90’s smash sensation “Fly” before coming back full circle. This band plays and sounds like a group who tours together full time. The darkly playful “Peel” featured some intrepid jamming from the undeniably powerful Mr. Cleary. The newly anointed Phish tune “Say Something,” also off of Overstep, became a colossal sing-along. Murawski took lead vocals on a crowd-pleasing version of the Talking Heads’ “Cities.” They closed with “Tiny Little World” before returning for an unexpected take on “Baton Hallow” originally from The Civil Wars. Mike Gordon and his band are far from an art show gone awry. In fact, they are an occurrence or an event like the passing of a comet or the Aurora Borealis. Deeply rooted in the music, but beyond their prowess, this band utilizes a blending of the familiar and the unexpected to jar the viewer into having an authentic experience. That in itself is a rare thing to find at a rock show and well worth the journey to get there.

Nicholas & Kevin's Photo Gallery

www.mike-gordon.com

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Great American Taxi with Whiskey Tango 3.13.14


Hodi’s Half Note
Fort Collins, Colorado

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock


What happens when a side project ceases to be a side project? The departure of Vince Herman for points west and a full commitment to Leftover Salmon created this exact conundrum. Once an outlet for his free time he now has none. After some soul-searching the remaining members of the band decided this train was just not ready to pull into the station. After a short break and the addition of Taylor Sims, who is best known as a member of Spring Creek and most recently Bonnie and the Clydes, Great American Taxi is back in full force. With Conspirator playing down the street the crowd consisted primarily of old fans and others who thought they were seeing Vince. Up first was Whiskey Tango who has been playing up in Northern Colorado a bit more often as of late. They opened with “Tree Hugger.”

Set One: Tree Hugger, Earl, Pulse, Fate Is Fickle, Crystalline Dream> I Know You Rider, Annalisa, We Gotta Move, Two Bucks And A Beaver Shot, Thicker

Whiskey Tango is equal parts twang, rock, and powerful harmonies. Songs like “Annalisa” showcase their ability to shred. Matt Gallagher takes every opportunity to blast off on his electric banjo with a focus on the stringed groove. This quintet, originally formed in 2009, finally seems to be venturing out and expanding their fan base. Northern Colorado could use a regular return of their blend of Americana and Rock and Roll. The “Crystalline Dream” into a whiplash version of the Grateful Dead’s “I Know You Rider” was an obvious highlight. They closed with a strong “Thicker.”



The Taxi took the stage and by now the room was about half full with plenty of space to move around. They established early that this is not a completely new band with the well-established GAT tune, “Straw Man.”

Set One: Straw Man, Shape I'm In, Albuquerque, NM, Hold On Me, Lumpy, Beanpole and Dirt, New Millennium Blues, Natural To Be Gone, Big Sandy River, Swamp Song, Penny Arcade, Tough Job, American Beauty, Clara Belle, Silver Fiddle, West LA Fadeaway, Radiation Blues, Poor House, Victimless Crimes, Get No Better

Encore: We've Been Had

What many (including myself) didn’t know was that this was the first time Taylor Sims was performing live with Great American Taxi. Taxi has been no stranger to lineup changes over the years. The current group, lead by founding keyboardist Chad Staehly, have been the well-oiled machine behind Vince for the better part of the last decade. Now it’s a whole new ballgame. Beyond all of that, Taylor Sims is explosive on the microphone. His vocals commanded attention and his delivery adds a new dynamic to the established GAT sound. They treated us to rendition of The Band’s “Shape I’m In” as well as a smoking version of the Bad Livers’ “Lumpy, Beanpole and Dirt” Reenergized originals percolated through the set adding a real vibrancy to their output. Classic Taxi like the Staehly sung “Penny Arcade” and “Radiation Blues” demonstrated their commitment to the sound this band built.

They are a country band going off the rails into the world of rock, psychedelic jams, and bluegrass. Great American Taxi has something for everyone. The addition of Sims gives this band a real chance to strike out on their own and take a leap beyond Herman’s shadow. Additional highlights included a solid rendition of the Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway” and a set closing “Get No Better.” They encored with “We’ve Been Had.” Great American Taxi is far from done and the new solidified lineup is hungry to prove just that. They have begun mapping out a tour and will again be hitting the road this summer. Great American Taxi has a real chance now to create a different legacy for themselves. So what happens when a side project stops being a side project? Time will tell.

Nick’s Photo Gallery

www.greatamericantaxi.com

www.whiskeytangoco.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

MusicMarauders Presents: The Everyone Orchestra


The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO


Join us on Saturday March 22nd at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO for MusicMarauders Presents: The Everyone Orchestra feat. Eddie Roberts (The New Mastersounds), Jans Ingber (The Motet), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green), John Kalecik (Furthur), Trevor Garrod (Tea Leaf Green), Jeremy Salken (Big Gigantic), Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band) & Bridget Law (Elephant Revival)!

Doors: 8:30 PM
Show: 9:00 PM
All Ages
$20 ADV/$23 DOS + $2 For Under 21 Tickets

Purchase Tickets: www.foxtheatre.frontgatetickets.com

www.foxtheatre.com

www.everyoneorchestra.com

Monday, March 17, 2014

MusicMarauders Presents: David Grisman Folk Jazz Trio 3.7.14


Boulder Theater
Boulder, CO


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

The word "legend" does not get thrown around too often. Personally, when I hear the word in reference to the music industry acts such as The Beatles, The Grateful Dead and Eric Clapton come quickly to mind. But when you narrow down the idea of whom is a legend, and apply it to the bluegrass genre, David Grisman certainly needs to be at the top of every list. From his work with “Old and In the Way” to the ridiculous recordings with Jerry Garcia and Tony Rice known as the “Pizza Tapes,” Grisman has set himself apart with these unique collaborations and outrageous skills on the mandolin. Known as the “Dawg,” Grisman has toured the country relentlessly for the past 30 years bringing some good ole bluegrass joy to those who are lucky enough to attend one of his shows. This past Friday night at the Boulder Theater I was fortunate enough to attend the “David Grisman Folk Jazz Trio” show and for lack of a better phrase…it was fucking badass.

Arriving to a sit-down show is always a bit intimidating for me, as I am usually running around snapping one picture after another. With restrictions in place for where I could go inside the theater, I decided to truly enjoy the Grisman experience and make sure to take in all of the quirky stories and amazing knowledge that he has to offer. Playing with his son Samson on upright bass and acoustic guitar extraordinaire Jim Hurst, Grisman led the trio through a number of his pieces and some true bluegrass regulars. Cracking jokes and telling long-winded stories between each number has become routine for any Grisman show, but with such an intimate setting within the absolutely amazing Boulder Theater, this time around I came to enjoy the “Story time with the Dawg.” When he wasn’t telling some story about how Jerry Garcia wrote this song or Vassar Clements ripped this solo, the “Dawg” shredded at every opportunity. Whether he was leading the charge or watching his son Samson take over with filthy bass lines, it was quite evident that Grisman has not lost any of his immense mandolin talent.

Watching one of the true “Legends” of bluegrass is always a joy, whether it’s Del McCoury, Sammy Bush or Darol Anger. But there is something special about seeing a person like the “Dawg” who has such an immense amount of historical importance to the bluegrass genre. Grisman has played with everyone from Peter Rowan to Vassar Clements to the ever-great Mr. Jerry Garcia, but the one thing that stands out most about the collaborations is that Grisman is never just the guy in the background ripping on the mandolin. Grisman is so immensely talented that whatever group he is playing with gives him a prominent/featured role because he truly is that damn good. He can pick just as fast as any mandolin player I have ever seen and at 68 years young, there are no signs of Grisman slowing down anytime soon. The bond he has on stage with his many different musical combinations is incredible, and for the Folk Jazz Trio, Jim Hurst provides a perfect partner for the “Dawg” in transforming whatever they are playing into something melodic and beautiful. Hurst is one of the best acoustic guitar musicians I have had the opportunity to see up close, and combined with the legend on stage left, it was almost too much to handle. Songs such as “Shady Grove” and “Swang Thang” had such instrumental passion to them that being forced to sit-down during these shred-fests was a feat not for the weak of heart.

Yes, I admit having to sit-down at this show was a bit tough for me. I had to control my feet from bouncing right out of my shoes as Samson’s distinctive bass-lines echoed through the Boulder Theater like smooth butter. I eventually ended up standing against a wall to the far right of the theater so I could move just a little bit, because I honestly felt that the “Dawg” would have wanted me to rebel against the authority and fucking dance when I felt like it. (I also had to move away from a very annoying offbeat clapper, who ruined many a songs with her stupid hands smacking each other in no musical rhythm whatsoever) But all was not lost with the beauty of the sit-down performance as for a change most of the Boulder crowd was quiet and respectful for a show of this format. Other than the offbeat clapper, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of “Dawg Music” and hope to see Hurst and the two Grisman’s back sooner, rather than later. But please, give us one show where we don’t have to sit-down because we all know that dancing to “Shady Grove” is a lot more fun than being forced to sit through it.

Kevin's Photo Gallery

www.davidgrisman.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WinterWonderGrass Festival 2.21 - 2.23.14


Harry A. Nottingham Park
Avon, Colorado

Words, Photos & Video By Nicholas Stock
Additional Video By Evenstev
Audio By Rob O’Brien & Matt Nida

Friday February 21st, 2014:


In only their second year, Winter Wonder Grass announced a top tier bluegrass lineup that would end in three sell out nights. The festival moved from their original location on the grounds of the Crazy Horse Brewery in Edwards, to the much more accommodating Harry A. Nottingham Park in Avon. Fans who made the inaugural event said that wind and the proximity to the highway were distractions to the otherwise awesome show. This year the layout was perfect for an audience that featured equal parts locals and out-of-towners. The lineup was beefed up as well with the inclusion of Colorado heroes Leftover Salmon and the heavily anticipated set from Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers. Our trip had a dual purpose; we were here for the music, but also to celebrate my wife’s birthday. We arrived in the Vail Valley and made our way over to catch the end of the Dead Winter Carpenters set which opened up the weekend. They performed an insanely tight version of Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.”

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Two large beer hall tents framed the main stage as you entered the intimate grounds. Food Vendors dotted the back perimeter opposite the stage and VIP area. The tents housed the myriad of microbrews from across the state and beyond. They also contained the Jamboree Stage and the Pickin’ Perch respectively. I never really knew which was which all weekend, but that didn’t seem to be a problem. I found myself at the 4:20 Beer Talk with Vince Herman and Breckenridge Brewery along with managers John Joy and Sean MacAskill. It seemed to be an unofficial welcome of sorts; beers were discussed, joints were passed. The laid-back atmosphere meant that musicians could mingle with the fans without fear of too much attention. Throughout the three days I saw many musicians dotting the audience just enjoying the show.

MilkDrive was perhaps my biggest surprise of the weekend delivering four sets over the first two days of the festival. Starting on the main stage they gave us their brand of self-described “Jazz-Grass.” They got my attention by opening with a beautiful version of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.” Their sound was elevated and featured some impeccable instrumentation. They have a class and elegance to their delivery that is simply striking. The instrumental “Devil’s Flame” was as technical as it was unique. This band is an up and comer and I look forward to their return to the Rocky Mountain Region.

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Gipsy Moon and The Old Town Pickers each took a tent so patrons could warm up, grab a beer and still listen to music with much efficiency. Gipsy Moon is a band from Nederland that features Vince Herman’s son, Silas, on mandolin. Beyond their prestigious heritage this band can pick. They are a soulful, gypsy band with lots of heart. They reek of authenticity and their music is a true delight. The Old Town Pickers tend to stand along the more traditional line of bluegrass music complete with five to ten gallons worth of hat. They were a welcomed addition to WinterWonderGrass.

Greensky Bluegrass was up for the first of their two sets. This was billed as a solo show with the band featuring Sam Bush for Saturday’s headlining slot. What followed was ninety minutes of pure bluegrass bliss. This gracious band from Kalamazoo is all business. They opened with their original “Just To Lie.”

Greensky Bluegrass Live at Winter Wondergrass Main Stage on February 21, 2014.



Set One: Just To Lie, The Ghost of Richard Manuel, Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down, Lost My Way, Leap Year, Nine Pound Hammer, Wings For Wheels, Don’t Lie, Not Out Of Control, Wheel Hoss, Walkin’ The Dog*, Can’t Stop Now*

*w/ Drew Emmitt and Sam Bush both on Mandolin

Just looking at the setlist it’s an obvious blend of the new and the unabashedly traditional. The rendition of Charlie Poole’s “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” comes from 1925 and “Nine Pound Hammer” has its roots in the railroad work songs first documented in the 1870’s as part of the a series known today as the “hammer songs.” The new, comprised of tunes from their own catalog, included the epically performed “Don’t Lie.” After a nice rendition of Bill Monroe’s “Wheel Hoss,” fans got a big surprise.

“…What do you do at festivals? … That’s right your friends come play music with you… We got a friend named Drew Emmitt; a lot of what we do is his fault. And we also have a friend Sam Bush, and a lot of what Drew does is Sam’s fault.” - Greensky

What followed was a three-mandolin massacre of Cliff and Tex Grimsley’s “Walkin’ The Dog.” Sam, Drew and Paul traded licks on their corresponding mandolins gracefully. They stayed for the set-closing version of the New Grass Revival’s “Can’t Stop Now.” Sam was obviously at home on this one.

Leftover Salmon has been featuring Little Feat’s Bill Payne on keys quite a bit recently. With little fanfare prior to the show he again appeared on stage with Salmon at Winter Wonder Grass. In the interest of beating a dead horse I would like to once more post my petition to make him a full time member of the band. However as time goes on it’s looking that is becoming less and less necessary. It seems only a matter of time before Mr. Payne is not a special guest but rather a full fledge member of the band. Sam Bush too made his way to the stage this time with his fiddle. He would alternate between mando and fiddle for the entirety of the hour and half set. They opened with “Rag Mama Rag.”

Leftover Salmon Live at Winter Wondergrass Main Stage on February 21, 2014.



Set One: Rag Mama Rag, In A House, In a Home, Gulf Of Mexico, Aquatic Hitchhiker, Liza, Here Comes The Night, Powder Day, Two Highways, Past On the Mountain*, Fat man In The Bathtub

Encore: Sam’s Song, Up On the Hill Where They Do The Boogie

w/ Bill Payne on Keys and Sam Bus on Mandolin and Fiddle (entire show)

*Unknown crewmember on rap vocals

Leftover Salmon continues to be one of the most exciting and intriguing bands touring today. The inclusion of Andy Thorn on banjo and now Payne on keys has invigorated this once sleeping giant. Their musical output has an encouraging and vibrant tone that basically bullies the listener into having a good time. Vince has evolved from the ‘big fat party animal’ into the bandleader with focus and panache. He was all smiles as he delivered the goods on guitar and vocals. “In A House, In A Home” showcased the most recent permanent addition to the band Alwyn Robinson on drums with a big solo. The beautiful title track to their latest album “Aquatic Hitchhiker” was a huge highlight as was Drew’s electrified “Here Comes The Night.”

“Powder Day” was a nod to all those that took a few turns earlier in the day. “Pasta On The Mountain” took on its most experimental form with a record scratch intro and rap vocals from an unknown assailant. Vince sang a series of lyrics that equated to a ringing endorsement of both Amendment 64 and the current state of greenery in Colorado. They closed the set with a Drew-sung version of Little Feat’s “Fat Man In The Bathtub.” Creator of Winter Wonder Grass and owner of Bonfire Entertainment Scott Stoughton gave a heartfelt thank to the crowd. Salmon along with Bush and Payne returned with a very appropriate rendition of John Hartford’s “Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie.”

Saturday February 22nd, 2014:

Late night options were available in multiple venues across town and at several different price points. This weekend also being my wife’s birthday party we opted to hang out and avoid the madness. We arrived fresh and ready for action at Nottingham Park on day two. The 3:00 PM start meant that fans would filter in throughout the day. When Tyler Grant and Scott Law took the stage for their opening set, there were only a few already on the lawn. Again it was a slightly overcast day but definitely warmer than Friday. Grant is a National Flatpicking Champion and Law too Flatpicks. Like Grant, Law has also played with just about everyone. Their set was fairly unassuming with a wide range of songs including Grant’s “One Town One Tune At A Time” and a hopeful version of Willie Nelson’s “Uncloudy Day.”

“It never occurred to me that we would be playing outside.” – Scott Law

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MilkDrive again took the tents with three sets including a show billed as the Winter Wonder Grass Special!, but we’ll get to that. Colorado Homegrowns WhiteWater Ramble were up on the main stage next. This band seems to have finally found their proper footing after years of struggling with changes in lineup and inconsistent performances. WhiteWater Ramble has emerged from the fog of uncertainty and become a real contender. Their set at WWG was a powerful statement of what this band can do with its current personnel firing on all cylinders. They gave us seventy-five minutes of sweat inducing jamgrass, delivered with passion and prowess. It was a solid performance.

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Law and Grant also emerged in the tents for two more performances. One of which included Fruition mandolin player Mimi Naja. This gave everyone the opportunity to see several more sets throughout the day. These ‘tweeners’ only lasted thirty minutes, but that was plenty of time to grab a beer and get down for a song or three. Finally, the moment had arrived. The Gramblers took to the stage for a quick sound check before Nicki Bluhm appeared draped in a full body parka for their opener “Burnt.”

Nicki Bluhm And The Gramblers Live at Winter Wondergrass on February 22, 2014.



Set One: Burnt, Go Go Go, I’m Your Woman, Stick With Me, Deep Water, Til I’m Blue*, Leave The Leavin’ Up To You*, Baarbary Blues, Ravenous, I Wanna Go Home, Somebody To Love, Little Too Late, Jetplane, In The Mountains

*w/Scott Law with just Nicki and Tim Bluhm

Reed Mathis of Tea Leaf Green was filling in for regular bassist Steve Adams. Reed is an absolute monster, enough said. Tim Bluhm went from keys to electric guitar several times throughout the show. Nicki the consummate performer commanded the attention of all those in attendance. At one point she merely unzipped her parka a few inches and the crowd went nuts. She discarded her puffy protection revealing a white lounge suit that seemed more appropriate. Musically this band is awesome, though it felt a little weird watching them on stage and not in a van… but seriously the entire group was mesmerizing. Their song choices at times seemed a bit slow, but as the set built before it exploded on the Jefferson Airplane cover, “Somebody To Love.”

“That’s a little San Francisco for you, that’s where we’re from.” –Nicki Bluhm

Nicki’s vocals danced with Ney’s lead guitar on “Little Too Late” which mostly stayed in the pocket. They closed with a fitting “In The Mountains.” Go see this band. They are absolutely worth whatever they are charging you at the door. Fire tossers and acrobats seemed to randomly materialize throughout the weekend. However, the Winter Wonder Grass Special! was taking off on the Jamboree Stage so I headed over to see what that was all about. I found Bonnie Paine and Bridget Law of Elephant Revival sitting in with MilkDrive. This was a hidden gem of the fest and the fans that crammed into that tent found themselves in the middle of a string filled shred fest.

The headlining set of Winter Wonder Grass, Greensky Bluegrass featuring Sam Bush was also the longest of all three days coming in at just short of two hours. They again took on a bluegrass traditional “I’m Working On A Building,” which is based off
an African Spiritual to open up their set.

Greensky Bluegrass Live at Winter Wondergrass on February 22, 2014.



Set One: I’m Working On A Building, Same Ol’ River, Bottle Dry, White House Blues, Fist City*, Jaywalking*, Gumboots, Howlin’ at the Moon, WWG Breakdown> Worried About The Weather, All Four Wheels

Encore: Coming In From The Cold

“I’m a lucky boy I get to play with Greensky Bluegrass tonight.” – Sam Bush

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This was a musical high in the valley of a mountain range. Winter Wonder Grass is a grassroots festival that cultivates the type of musical collaboration and interaction that real fans crave. This set was just what the doctor ordered. Sam took the reigns on “Same Ol’ River” before they went back to the catalog of Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers with “White House Blues.” Greensky invited Nicki Bluhm up to sing a couple songs with the band. And honestly why not? She sang a perfect version of Loretta Lyn’s “Fist City” before taking on Greensky original, “Jaywalking.” Bush added his flourishes throughout the night and his incredible ability as a picker was evident with each new song.

Sam came to the microphone on the classic “Howlin’ at the Moon.” Anders announced they wanted to do something special for the festival, and so he wrote the next song, “Winter Wonder Grass Breakdown,” as the Ski Patrol was towing him down the mountain on Thursday. Luckily he was alright and this jam was well worth any injury he might have sustained. This tune was complete with a Sam Bush style “Smoke On The Water” tease as well. The instrumental melted into their original “Worried About The Weather” before they closed with a sublime “All Four Wheels.” They encored with “Coming In From The Cold,” which all in attendance were ready to do. The fans drifted out into the night with the only dusting of snow we received all weekend. Winter Wonder Grass may have lacked the fresh powder, but that was of little concern to the music fans that braved the cold to hear bluegrass magic. Head For The Hills hosted the late night with sit-ins from members of Greensky. By all accounts it was the best after show of the weekend. Two down, one to go.

Sunday February 23rd, 2014:

For the first time in three days, attendees of Winter Wonder Grass awoke to sunshine and a genuinely picturesque day. Day three would feature a completely fresh lineup, which began with a main stage set from Portland’s Fruition. The day started a little earlier and would end at 9 PM to keep the neighbors happy on a Sunday night. Cheers to Scott for filling out the marquee with such strong supporting acts and really making Winter Wonder Grass a top-notch experience. Fruition invited Bridget Law to join them on a new song possibly entitled, “Still Both Around” about half way through their slot. This band is definitely distinctive and incredibly engaging. They kept Law up for the remainder of the set and wrapped up their main stage show with the bubbly “Just Close Your Eyes.”

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The Winter Wonder Grass House Band was in full effect throughout all of Sunday. This group appeared to be the bluegrass love child of The Olora Brothers, Skin The Rabbit, and whoever else happened to be walking by with a stringed instrument. Over the course of three sets there were multiple formations, sit-ins, and a general air of collaboration. The groups could have easily dissolved into a disorganized clusterpluck but in reality everyone played nice. The result was some strong musical output from a diverse group of pickers.

My Hometown Heroes, Head For The Hills followed and I can’t help but be impressed every time I see them perform live. Not only was this by far the warmest set of the festival, but also a really solid chunk of music from this Fort Collins group. They eased in with a very tight “Light The Way.” After an instrumental, Joe Lessard, with the help of his trusty bassits Matt Loewen, crushed the forceful track “Never Does” off their most recent album, Blue Ruin. Adam Kinghorn gave us some classic H4Th throughout the show, but Joe gave us a brand new song that is still as of yet untitled. Overall this was just a really pleasing show, that featured the new and the old alongside the massive instrumentals they are known for. Head For The Hills is by far one of the best Colorado string bands touring today.

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Fruition gave us two more short sets on the Jamboree Stage. The long awaited main stage set from Elephant Revival was upon us. Again demonstrating the Winter Wonder Grass commitment to bands born in Colorado, by giving them the sunset slot on Sunday. Their brand of intricate Americana is hard to put into words. Elements of folk, traditional bluegrass, indie, and rock seep into their sound, but they never pigeonhole themselves by focusing on one style. They are utterly original and their ability to have a real and visceral impact on their audience is unmatched.

Songs like “Go On” and “Hearts And Tongues” dotted their set. At one point the acrobats who had been performing throughout the grounds all weekend appeared on stage followed by an artist named Rainbow Michael. The obvious highlight of the set beyond the rainbow spandex clad unannounced addition was “A Woman’s Grace” that included members of Fruition sitting in.

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After another round in the tents it was time for the principal affair of the evening. On the last night of an epic Ski Tour that stretched throughout the Rockies over the course of a couple weeks The Infamous Stringdusters took the Winter Wonder Grass stage. The run contained several two night runs including two nights in Fort Collins the weekend prior. They opened with a rowdy “It’ll Be Alright.”

Infamous Stringdusters Live at Winter Wondergrass on February 23, 2014.



Set One: It’ll Be Alright, Well Well, Try Try Try, Rivers Run Cold, 17 Cents, Time To Part, Middlefork, Blockies, I’ll Get Away, Once You’re Gone, Get It While You Can, Black Rock, Fearless, Fork In The Road, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, Heady Festy

Encore: No More To Leave You Behind, Let It Go

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After catching the Dusters for two nights in Fort Collins, this felt like a proper end to the 2014 Winter Wonder Grass Festival. This band is all energy and their performances conjure a real connection to the music they are performing. Songs like “Try Try Try” are comprised equally of whiplash inducing string grinding and sophisticated songwriting. The Infamous Stringdusters opted to give a clean performance un-muddled with things like guest performers. “17 Cents” was a dance party, but “Time To Part” was a launching pad for the rest of this rowdy set of music.

The short but energetic “Once You’re Gone” segued nicely into their original “Get It While You Can.” They treated fans to rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t’ Think Twice It’s Alright” before they closed with the instrumentally poetic but relevant “Heady Festy.” Their encore had two teeth with “No More To Leave You Behind” into “Let It Go.” This was an absolutely perfect close to what can only be described as a perfect festival.

The Winter Wonder Grass House band joined Elephant Revival for some late night shenanigans at Agave. We decided to head back to our chalet in Beaver Creek basically buzzing from three nights of epic string music. This homegrown festival has earned the right to be in the same ring as the Rocky Grass and Telluride Bluegrass Festivals. The ‘only in Colorado’ element of hosting this event in February, in the mountains, and outdoors only adds to the mystique. Sure I wore long johns each day, but that was a small price to pay for this utterly original experience. I can definitely say I’m already thinking about next year.

Nicholas' Night One Photo Gallery

Nicholas' Night Two Photo Gallery

Nicholas' Night Three Photo Gallery

www.winterwondergrass.com

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

MusicMarauders Presents: Conspirator


The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO


Join us on Saturday March 15th at The Fox Theatre for MusicMarauders Presents: Conspirator with DYNOHUNTER and Astro Trio!

Doors: 08:30 PM
Show: 09:00 PM
All Ages
$17.00 ADV / $20.00 DOS

Purchase your tickets at www.foxtheatre.frontgatetickets.com

www.conspiratorband.com

www.foxtheatre.com

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Monday, March 10, 2014

MusicMarauders Presents: Toubab Krewe & Genetics


The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO


Join us on Thursday March 13th at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO for MusicMarauders Presents: Toubab Krewe and Genetics!

Doors: 08:30 PM
Show: 09:00 PM
All Ages
$13.00 ADV / $16.00 DOS

Purchase Ticket at www.foxtheatre.frontgatetickets.com

www.toubabkrewe.com

www.geneticsmusic.com

www.foxtheatre.com

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

MusicMarauders Presents: David Grisman's Folk Trio


Boulder Theater
Boulder, CO


Join us on Friday March 7th at The Boulder Theater in Boulder, CO for MusicMarauders Presents: David Grisman's Folk Trio!

Doors: 7:00 PM
Show: 8:00 PM
All Ages

Purchase Tickets Here: www.bouldertheater.frontgatesolutions.com

www.davidgrisman.com

www.bouldertheater.com

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Infamous Stringdusters with The Deadly Gentlemen 2.15 - 2.16.14


Aggie Theatre
Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock
Audio by Gerry Gladu

Night One:

Knee deep in their “Ski Tour,” The Infamous Stringdusters parked themselves in Fort Collins for a pair of shows far away from any panic-inducing gondolas. They brought along The Deadly Gentlemen who initially gained attention as the band with David Grisman’s progeny on bass. However, Sam Grisman has recently departed the group passing his spot on to Adam Chaffins. Unfortunately, due to my tardiness and a ridiculous line, I entered as they were finishing.

As I walked inside, I was greeted by a six foot chain link fence separating the bar area from the rest of the Aggie. I had heard some distant rumors, but little could prepare me for what I witnessed. Due to some overzealous police work in Fort Collins and pressure from the city this was the answer to a question I can’t fathom. Regardless the end result was mayhem for this sold-out show. Fans were ass to elbow in the ‘Cage’ as it affectionately came to be called. Music fans would slam drinks before bouncing to the floor. So I’m not sure what this solves, but I digress. The Infamous Stringdusters opened with a sublime “Blockies.”

Infamous Stringdusters Live at Aggie Theatre on February 15, 2014.



Set One: Blockies, The Hitchhiker, Tennessee Side Of Things, Clinch Mountain Backstep, Colorado, Time To Part, True Life Blues, Rivers Run Cold, Summercamp> Walking On The Moon, Long And Lonesome Day> Gettin’ Down The Road



Set Two: You Can't Stop The Changes, Black Rock, Get It While You Can, The Place That I Call Home, Steam Powered Aereo Plane, Angeline The Baker, Like I Do, 17 Cents, Machines, All The Same, High Country Funk, Three Days In July, I Know You Rider, Let It Go, Given More Time



Encore: Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

The Infamous Stringdusters are a one-stop bluegrass shop and on Friday they were open for business. They have it all, from their striking harmonies to their irreproachable instrumentation. This band’s dance-inducing melodies are enough to warm the heart of any string fan. Their first set was loaded with highlights including a rendition of Ralph Stanley’s “Clinch Mountain Backstep” that showcased some flawless fiddle work from Jeremy Garrett. Their love and respect for my adopted state was obvious in their original, “Colorado.”  Chris Pandolfi demanded the crowd’s attention on “Time To Part” through unadulterated banjo shredding.  The Infamous Stringdusters are as smooth as they are precise. Their playfully sweet homage to childhood, “Summercamp” into the Police’s “Walking On The Moon” was a nice touch. The set-closing “Long And Lonesome Day” into “Gettin’ On Down The Road” was just stellar. The combination of Garrett’s fiddle and Hall’s imposing vocals is something to behold.

They took a short set break as the masses squeezed by the fence line for fresh air. Though if they hadn’t installed the fence, chances are the Dusters would not have been able to play two nights at the Aggie. So by the second set I had made peace. The Infamous Stringdusters eased into set two with “You Can’t Stop The Changes” like a slice of red velvet cake. Their focus on harmonies is always a key element, but here they were especially on fire vocally. Garrett and Hall traded the spotlight on “Black Rock.” Travis Book has incredible timing on his instrument; at times he would literally startle the audience when he would thunder slap the bass. Their strangely familiar “Get It While You Can” went into the bright but nostalgic road song, “The Place That I Call Home.”

“We’re gonna do a song for all the dreamers out there.” – Travis

Fans were then treated to a beautiful version of John Hartford’s “Steam Powered Aereo Plane.” The instrumental “Angeline The Baker” was absolutely huge, but “Like I Do” was a breather. Pandolfi got dirty on “17 Cents” creating some great back and forth between he and Falco on guitar. The band again went for the more composed jam with the instrumental, “Machines.” Listening to this song is admitting that anything is possible. The Dusters went into a nice grass version of The Grateful Dead’s “I Know You Rider” before showing their spiritual side with “Let It Go.” They closed the second set with “Given More Time,” which had me wishing they were given some more time… The boys closed with a Falco sung rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.”  Despite the confined spaces and the prodigious crowd, the show went off as planned. A few drunks got the boot and there was an air of rowdiness at times, but that’s the same at every sold out Aggie show. The next night would give the hardcore fans a little more space as the Ski Tour rolled on.

Night Two:

As far as the audience is concerned, if night one was a raging bull night two was a very friendly squirrel. Seriously, the room was maybe half full with only the hardcore DustHeads making it to the Aggie on a Sunday night. I arrived early having missed The Deadly Gentlemen on the first go around. I did not want to make the same mistake twice. This group has intrigued me since hearing a few of their early recordings online. They have a distinctly original sound that seems to be so well steeped in all the string music that came before. They went on early just after 8 PM. Their set was just under an hour, and the early arrivers were treated to a nice sampling of what the Gentlemen do. The lead guitarist, Stash (a nickname based on his last name Stanislaw), alternates between a straightforward bluegrass delivery to screaming vocals. Greg Lizst is perhaps the most renowned member of the group having toured with Crooked Still and played with Springstein’s live band during his Seeger Sessions Tour. The newest member Adam Chaffins has honeyed vocals that are a total juxtaposition to his slaphappy bass style. Their show was certainly worth making the trip early. The highlight was a tight version of the Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed.” If The Deadly Gentlemen are in your town go see them live.

The Infamous Stringdusters came to the stage with a high-speed “Ain’t No Way Of Knowing” into a spot on version of Earl Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.”

Infamous Stringdusters Live at Aggie Theatre on February 16, 2014.



Set One: Ain't No Way Of Knowing> Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Light And Love, One More Bridge, When Silence Is The Only Sound> Night On The River> Well, Well, Middle Fork, Fork In The Road, Sunny Side Of The Mountain*, Old Joe Clark*



Set Two: Road to Boulder, Jack-A-Roe, Once You're Gone, I'll Get Away, Heady Festy> In God's Country, Get On With It, 3x5, Home of the Red Fox, Try Try Try, Paypal Jamgrass, Fire, Cripple Creek, Echoes of Goodbye, Moon Man



Encore: He's Gone, Head Over Heels In Love With You

“We got a little more elbow room tonight… and now we’re gonna play a lot of music.” – Travis

“Light And Love” sounded like it could have been written by Bill Nershi, but the refrain was all Duster harmony. “When Silence Is The Only Sound” into “Night On The River” into “Well, Well” made up the meat of the first set. This whole sequence of songs built upon each other creating a rich musical tapestry for the listeners. Their ability to crisply segue between songs also demonstrates how this band has truly blossomed since their formation in 2007. “Fork In The Road” was another highlight with some amazing give and take again between Falco and Pandolfi. Eventually, Garrett jumped in to steal the solo. I will just say that I may or may not have told Chris Pandolfi he was, “…an attractive man.” For the record, that is merely an observation. The band invited Dominick Leslie on mandolin and Mike Bennett on fiddle from The Deadly Gentlemen up before Travis sang us “Sunny Side Of The Mountain” by the King Of Bluegrass himself, Mr. Jimmy Martin. Bennett and Leslie stayed for the set closing “Old Joe Clark,” which is either a traditional Appalachia folk tune or an instrumental homage to a tough, but innovative principal.

The Infamous Stingdusters again showed their Red, White, Blue and Yellow with their original “Road To Boulder.” Their version of the Grateful Dead’s “Jack-A-Roe” featured some of their most extended jams of the evening. Travis drove the bus on “I’ll Get Away.” “Heady Festy” was beautifully executed as was the segue into “In God’s Country.” “3x5” featured some impassioned vocals again from the bassist after which we were treated to a ripping version of Bill Emerson Jr.’ s “Home of the Red Fox.” “Try Try Try” was a quiet moment before the rowdy “Paypal Jamgrass.” Their original “Fire” is sung from the perspective of a smitten lover. The Dusters went into a bouncy version of The Band’s “Cripple Creek.” “Echoes of Goodbye” featured some shredded violin from Garrett and they again went to the Dead catalog to close with “He’s Gone.” They encored with the Flatt and Scruggs classic “Head Over Hills In Love With You.”

This was two nights of The Infamous Stringdusters doing what they do best; shredding strings and breaking hearts. The Sunday show had a much more relaxed vibe and I was totally locked into the music being performed. The show was over just after midnight and as fans filtered out, the ‘Cage’ was (if anything) a random side note to two nights of awesomeness.



Nicholas' Night One Photo Gallery

Nicholas' Night Two Photo Gallery

www.thestringdusters.com

www.deadlygentlemen.com