MusicMarauders Four Year Anniversary: Dave Watts Super Jam 6.21.14

The 1up - Colfax
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

Four years... a powerful amount of time. High school. College. Presidential terms. Olympic Cycles. Leap Years. MusicMarauders. Saturday night, I joined a four year Anniversary party for MusicMarauders. I went for a variety of reasons. First, I wanted to support a friend and colleague in celebrating a monumental anniversary. Second, I wanted to see the collective talent assembled to mark the occasion.

When we entered the land of Donkey Kong and rock and roll, Genetics with special guest Chuck Morris (Lotus) was mid-set. At first I thought they were going to be heavy on the electronic influence, but as the show progressed, I found myself noting hints of Umphrey's McGee, Dopapod, the Grateful Dead and more. Through every musical turn, they confidently maneuvered. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. They had chemistry, balance, and direction. I found myself really enjoying their set.

As their set came to a close, I was pulled into the green room where an all star band was getting loose. From spirited conversations to intent gaming, a talent-rich conglomeration of some of my favorite musicians were unwinding and building rapport for a night of musical collaboration. Roosevelt "The Dr." Collier enthusiastically tapped buttons as he played Galaga (posting the 2nd highest score). The atmosphere was quite refreshing. I could tell the musicians were enjoying themselves. From the inner child being cut loose on an arcade, to the excitement of playing music with a lineup that only existed for two nights, everyone seemed stoked to be a part of it.

Centered around the Motet's drummer/founder, Dave Watts, the lineup was superb. Tea Leaf Green's pioneering bassist, Reed Mathis laid impeccable grooves in sync with Watts energetic drumming. Keyboard wizard Todd Stoops was a sonic chameleon, showing a versatility rivaled only by his track suit collection. Roosevelt Collier's slide work was impressive. His tone and energy were electric. String Cheese Incident's percussionist, Jason Hann, guested throughout the show and the trumpet duo of Gabe Mervine and Jen Hartswick provided the icing on this cake. Watts had put together the right ingredients, they'd just needed to apply some heat.

With sets that relied heavily on the funk, the band was dynamic, cohesive, synchronized, and inspired. The fun happening on stage translated through the speakers and washed over the dancing crowd. I was excited to see something that was so organic and tight. For an ensemble that was put together solely for this event, the band seemed extremely well-rehearsed. Pulling from each of their solo work and a shared repertoire of funky classics, the night was filled with familiar riffs by familiar faces. Hartswick and Mervine placed powerful, jazzy trumpet with classical precision and funky swagger atop a solid foundation. Roosevelt Collier's slide work was immaculate with searing soul and high-flying energy. His style was fierce, yet easy, with touches of Derek Trucks and Robert Randolph. What I enjoyed most about him was that he appeared to enjoy playing as much as we enjoyed watching. The same was true of Reed Mathis. He truly seemed to be happiest on stage, jamming with friends. With all that fun going on, there was nothing left to do but smile for the tandem drum combo of Hann and Watts.

Over the last four years, MusicMarauders has bloomed through a commitment to quality and innovation. I've enjoyed being around for a lot of it. The festivals, the unusual collaborations, the seemingly spontaneous side projects have been surprisingly intimate without losing the feel of something big. I've been honored to be a part of the team and look forward to all that is yet to come. Here's to much more Marauding!

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