Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Disco Biscuits with Bill Kreutzman & Mickey Hart 4.17.15

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Denver, CO

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

The forecast for Friday night in Morrison was bleak. Cold, wet, and windy were on the menu, and I decided to get into the idea. I bought a PVC rain suit, dressed in layers, and prepared myself to dance in a blizzard if it came to it. In fact, I was looking forward to that exact idea if I was being honest. On arrival at Red Rocks, the weather appeared quite mild. I grabbed a second hoodie from the car and had my rain suit packed in my bag in case things got hairy.

The opener, Break Science (full band), had just wrapped up as I got into the venue. After a half hour or so, the Biscuits appeared and launched into the only true Disco Biscuits set of the night. I'd seen them more than a handful of times and have had varying responses. I was never the biggest electronica fan, and when they leaned heavily that way in the early 2000's, it was innovative, but it wasn't my bag. Having really enjoyed their work on their early album, Uncivilized Area, I felt their new direction was lacking the compositional substance of which they were capable. Red Rocks was alive with a sea of flat brims peppered with tie-dye shirts. The Biscuits took the stage and opened with "M.E.M.P.H.I.S> Basis for a Day." This may have been my favorite part of the show as it culminated in a dance party throw down with shiny sounds and beats that bounced. The rest of first set was ok, but never made me feel like they were going for it.

Disco Biscuits Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on April 17, 2015

As the band returned from the first set break, they were joined by Tom Hamilton and Grateful Dead drummers, Billy Kreutzman and Mickey Hart. They settled in for a set that payed homage to the jamband forefathers. While I prefer the Dead to the Biscuits, something about this set felt cliche, or generic, or both. I appreciated the fact that the Biscuits were doing something so organic and traditional when they have always been on the cutting edge of electronica, but the result was better fare for a small club than Red Rocks. It was really fun to see the "Drums> Space" which had more of a Disco Biscuits flare and really took the old jams into the 21st century. Though most of the set was on par with a thousand other good Dead cover bands, Kreutzman and Hart were there, which made it acceptable. As the second set wound down, the wet flakes of a warm snow fell, catching light and lasers creating what was immediately dubbed "snow lasers." And what a glittery, sparkly, beautiful thing it was!

When third set began, the Dead drummers were no longer along for the ride. Without the drumming duo in tow, I assumed we were heading back into Disco Biscuits original territory. For the most part we were. Through a string of tunes beginning with "Fifth of Beethoven" and finishing a "Magellan" that had been started the night before, the band seemed to muddle through their own songs in anticipation of more Dead tunes which were performed sans the drummers. Once again, the falling slush made for a field of colored sparks. As Barber sang, the thought occurred to me that long ago, it was probably the Grateful Dead that inspired these guys to play improvisational jam music in the first place. For the younger electronica fans that haven't grown up on the Dead, it was likely an unusual show. I had my doubts that it would win the Dead any new fans, but it was fun anyway. For me, hearing the Grateful Dead has always been comforting in some way, and the familiar tunes in such epic surroundings was undoubtedly a treat, even if it was watching a band reach outside their wheelhouse. On the whole it was enjoyable, but I enjoyed the experience more than the music. Oh, and snow lasers...

Brad's Photo Gallery

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Conversation & Session with Head For The Hills

Planet Bluegrass
Lyons, CO

Words & Video By Jesse Filippelli (Filippelli Photos)

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to sit down and hang out with the guys from Head for the Hills before their performance at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons, CO at the Wildflower Pavilion. Aside from the overall hospitality I felt from the band and manager Sean MacAskill, these individuals are not only extremely talented musicians, but are as a group some of the nicest people I’ve dealt with in the music industry.

After a quick interview, the band agreed to play a few songs for me that we recorded on the bank of the St. Vrain River. Read below for the interview and video!

Head for the Hills is Mike Chappell (Mandolin), Adam Kinghorn (Guitar), Joe Lessard (Fiddle), Matt Loewen (Bass)

Honorary Head for the Hills Member, James Thomas (Piano/Keyboards)

Jesse Filippelli: First off, what is your favorite part about bluegrass music?

Head for the Hills: (Mike) Specifically, the flexibility. Especially in a place like Colorado where people embrace a lot of different styles of music in the bluegrass instrumentation, while also sticking to the traditional bluegrass. (Adam) It’s a style of music without drums. The mandolin is mimicking the drums and creating it’s own rhythm. (Matt) Even with folk music there isn’t that drive, it doesn’t sound like there is percussion, but in bluegrass it sounds like there is percussion involved.

Jesse: At what point did you all realize that music was going to be more than a hobby, or something you do with your friends, to a real path in life and career for you?

H4tH: (Adam) Possibly when we stopped playing at Cheba Hut and started opening for David Grisman at Mishawaka Amphitheatre. At the same time in Ft. Collins things were really starting to take off for us. We all started to look at each other and say, “So, are we going to use our degrees or are we going to try and make this happen?”

Jesse: How did it feel to go from playing Cheba Hut to opening for a legend such as David Grisman?

H4tH: (Mike) We started as a party band, so I have basically worshipped guys like David Grisman, or even at the time bands like Yonder Mountain String Band. Regardless, once we did switch over to opening for people like that it was very surreal.

Jesse: How did the band come together?

H4tH: (Adam) We all met at CSU. Some of us were living together; Sean was on the same floor as me. It all kind of just came together.

Jesse: What did you think of last nights sold out show in Denver at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom?

H4tH: (Joe) It was fun, it’s very cool to get that many people to come out on a Thursday night. Also, it’s a fun venue, people pack the place and when they go there they are ready to get down.

Jesse: So, this is my first time at Planet Bluegrass, and WOW it such a naturally gorgeous venue and so well known across the bluegrass scene. Though, you guys have played here before, what’s it like to play at such a landmark venue?

H4tH: (Matt) It’s great, granted we are very lucky to basically have this in our backyard. You never take it for granted, but like you said, we have played here before. We’re just fortunate to have this so close, and be able to play here like we do.

Jesse: When I drive into Lyons, I feel an overwhelming sense of life going down Main Street. Knowing how bad the town was after the floods, and all the work put into repairing it; is it special for you guys to play here since the flooding?

H4tH: Most definitely. (Mike) Adam and I were talking earlier, when the floods came there was a helicopter filming right here [Points out to the main lawn of Planet Bluegrass] and it was all completely under water. I had totally believed that this place was never going to open again, because based on that picture, Planet Bluegrass no longer existed. I would say the fact that we are even sitting here right now is monumental. (Adam) This place was just about as close as you can get to being totally destroyed. Lyons is a music town; it’s a bluegrass town. We know people and musicians who were directly affected and lost their homes, lost their instruments, and even a recording studio. So when you come back and play here, it’s almost a symbol of the triumph that people are overcoming.

Jesse: What’s next for Head for the Hills?

H4tH: (Matt) The goal is to release our next album. We are going to release it digitally, but we are also going to have it pressed onto a 7” vinyl. Other then that, we want to keep playing throughout the year and tour some new territory.

I want to send out a huge thank you to the Head for the Hills guys, and specifically their manager Sean MacAskill, for helping set up the interview and acoustic session!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band with Leopold & His Fiction 4.3.15

Hodi’s Half Note
Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)

Fort Collins has not had the best track record with audience turnout in recent months. So I was happy to see that a line out the door when I arrived at Hodi’s for The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. This power trio consists of the good Reverend on anything with at least three strings, his wife Breezy Peyton on washboard, Ben “Bird Dog” Bussell on drums and all three sharing vocal duties. They are Americana distilled through the finest of filters with most of the music feeling like it was written on a front porch where the mosquitoes fly freely. Hailing from the wilds of Indiana, The Big Damn Band tours prolifically clocking in a couple hundred shows or more a year. This current tour is in support of their recently released EP, So Delicious. This is the fifth album from Reverend Peyton and it’s a ball of fire from start to finish. In fact, much of their set list would be dedicated to the tracks off of the new album, but first, Leopold and His Fiction.

Watching Leopold and His Fiction at Hodi’s felt akin to seeing a young Gogol Bordello playing soul infused folk metal. The band maintained an expressive exuberance throughout their set. The whole package equated to pure authenticity. Leopold and His Fiction are yet another Austin-export, although lead singer and founder, Daniel James, is from Detroit. That heavy D-Town soul percolates throughout their rock-focused repertoire. Leopold and His Fiction have played over 300 shows in the last year and a half. Their intense tour schedule has landed them at the Voodoo Experience Music Festival and Fun Fun Fun Fest, as well as sharing the bill with Dwight Yokam and ZZ Top. They are an unusual formation in the music world, like a sapphire or an eggplant that totally looks like Richard Nixon. Songs like “Caving In” and the rowdy “Cowboy” were highlights of their opening set.

Illuminated signs at the back of the stage read ‘So Delicious’ and featured a blue neon pig. The trio took the stage and immediately got to work with an inspired “Raise A Little Hell.” Their sound is rustic slam folk dominated by the cavernous vocals of Josh “The Reverend” Peyton. They proceeded with “Let’s Jump A Train” (something you should never do), which was also off the new album. Digging deeper into their catalog fans rejoiced for a snappy “Easy Come Easy Go” and furiously fast “Mama’s Fried Potatoes.” The Big Damn Band went into “Hell Naw,” which was inspired by the death of the cell phone. Watching The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band it’s half shred fest, half story time, but it’s 100% mesmerizing. “Front Porch Trained” is a reference to how the Rev learned to play guitar. They went into “When The Saints Come Marching In” before covering Willie Dixon with a scorching “You Can’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover.” For the encore, the Big Damn Band invited the members of Leopold and His Fiction to join in on a “Two Bottles of Wine” sing along. Both bands gave utterly inspired performances. The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is set to embark on an extensive European tour in support of So Delicious, so it may be some time before you can catch them live. Musically, they continue to do exactly what they set out to do. They are writing boisterous, beautiful music full of life and experience. The silliness of songs like “Pot Roast and Kisses” is juxtaposed against intricate, unique guitar-work and powerful percussion. One thing is for sure, The Big Damn Band will never put on a lackluster show.

Nick’s Photo Gallery

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Denver Bluegrass Generals feat. Pandolfi, Hall, Bush, Keel & Grisman 3.27 & 3.28.15

The 1up - Colfax
Denver, CO

Words By J. Picard
Photos By Jim Mimna (J. Mimna Photography)

Super Jams are what I enjoy most about my job. As the Talent Buyer for The 1up - Colfax, a new venue arcade, in our second year, in one of the most competitive markets in the country, we've had to get creative to make a name for ourselves. The concept of the Super Jam is something that we did a couple of times before completely embracing it. We've done a handful of funk Super Jams, but the Denver Bluegrass Generals would be our first from the genre. The project began with Chris Pandolfi and Andy Hall of The Infamous Stringdusters and quickly grew following the addition of Sam Bush, Sam Grisman and finally Larry Keel to round it out. The artists were announced in stages, resulting in waves of excitement and anticipation leading up to the two nights. The Thursday prior to the shows, I was paid a visit to my office by one of my absolute favorite guitarists from the bluegrass realm, Larry Keel. That evening I rested my head on my pillow and began to dream...

Friday March 27, 2015:

The 1up team was in full effect, nailing down day of show logistics and prepping the venue for what was shaping up to be one of our biggest weekends to date. That afternoon the Generals arrived at the venue with excitement in their step. As the stage was being prepared, the allstar band withdrew their instruments from their cases and began to rehearse. Carly and I sat on one of the couches in amazement of what we were witnessing. With very few stops or corrections needed, the group tore through a handful of songs to get warmed up before stepping on stage for soundcheck. The couple of hours that followed would make all of the difference in the world in regards to the tightness of the music. Following the rehearsal, spirits were high as the band hopped into a car bound for their hotel for some rest and dinner before the evening kicked off.

Around 9:00 PM as tickets for the evening sold out, Caribou Mountain took the stage to warm up the quickly filling room. Caribou is one of my favorite up-and-coming Colorado bluegrass bands. Their sound was tight with a great mix of traditional and progressive output that drew the crowd close to the stage as folks approached through the back of the room. Caribou performed a mix of captivating originals about life, love and moonshining, as well as familiar covers including Kenny Rogers' "Just Dropped In!" Through an hour and fifteen minutes the young band showed how tight they could be and how loose they could get. By the completion of their set, The 1up - Colfax was at capacity and buzzing! Caribou Mountain Collective was the perfect band to kick off what would be an epic weekend!

Out front on Colfax Ave., the line extended down the block towards The Fillmore Auditorium. Folks paced back and forth frantically with their fingers in the air, in search of a golden ticket/miracle. Backstage, the Denver Bluegrass generals warmed up as house photographer, Jim Mimna, prepared for the evening's shoot. Spirits were high, smiles were big and there was no shortage of sideways comments and jabs from the peanut gallery. Following a quick huddle and salute, the "A Team" took the stage to the delight of the excited room. Chris welcomed everyone before kicking off the weekend with Red Allen's "Out On The Ocean" and Sam Bush fielding the vocals. Andy Hall stepped up next on vocals for "If I Loose," a traditional bluegrass number.

"Denver, welcome! Thank you guys so much for coming out tonight. I can't tell you how psyched we are to be here doing this. This is awesome!" - Chris Pandolfi

"Generally speaking, we're feelin' pretty good tonight!" - Sam Bush

A banjo tune followed in the form of of a fiery instrumental. Sam Bush struck away at his mandolin, relieving Andy of any chopping duties. It was as if the band had a drummer. A handful of big solos were passed around with the band eventually peaking in newgrass fashion. Larry lead the charge on an original number that he has composed on the Oregon Trail. Larry's raspy voice resonated through The 1up with strength and prominence as folks danced along. The traditional "Deep Elem Blues" followed to the delight of the capacity crowd that sang along loudly with Andy as Sam Grisman thumped away on the upright! "Ginseng Sullivan," a song by Norman Blake that was recorded by Sam Bush with Newgrass Revival, came next with Sam Bush leading and Larry and Andy backing.

"Ok, alright, we feel like jammin' a bit so we may as well..." -Sam Bush

What followed was a song that sounded like the title was "What'd He Say," but as Sam spoke the words and had the crowd repeat them, they were purposely inaudible. The composition was slow and meandering to begin; at times it was spacey and loose, and at times it was lightning fast through to the song's conclusion. Bob Marley's "One Love" was next on the docket, switching it up a bit. At one point all that remained was Sam Bush's percussive strikes while the crowd sang along.

"Hey, hey, hey... Let's do a tune by Bill Monroe. That's right, Bill Monroe, known as the father of Bluegrass music... I guess I'm the mother. Well, when Monroe would see me playing he'd say 'well there goes the mother...'" -Sam Bush

The set closer came in the form of Bill Monroe's "On My Way Back To The Old Home," as lead by Andy, with Chris keeping time. The song would mark the end of the first half of the evening's lesson, triggering recess. The Generals retreated to the war room to freshen up, talk tactics and for Sam Bush, it was time for some Galaga.

The band returned a short time later checking some insane effects before they started the second set with "Culpepper Woodchuck." Larry's voice was low and rumbling with intensity, as was his effect laden picking in the song's mid-section.

"Hey, I just want to say thank you for coming out and supporting bluegrass in Denver, CO. This is one of the best places to play bluegrass in the entire country and I've been everywhere. We all have..." -Andy Hall

An instrumental number followed with Sam Bush on the fiddle and everyone tossing licks into the mix. Next, was the Carter Family's "Blue Ridge Mountains" featuring Andy on vocals, followed by "No More Leave You Behind," that took off to soaring heights during the middle of the jam. A song named after the steel guitar featured Andy's skills with the rest of the band contributing here and there before launching into another instrumental number. The David Vai song, "Moonshine in The Moonlight," featured Larry's screaming vocals and ripping guitar work throughout a song that hit close to home for the Virginian. Sam Grisman kept the groove together as each man swung for the fence. A short version of Donovan's "There Is a Mountain" was lead by Andy on vocals before the band was introduced one final time.

The set closer came in the form of the Walter Vinson and Lonnie Chatmon song, "Sitting On Top Of The World!" The song featured big solos from Larry and Sam Grisman from the back of the stage and Chris before the tempo increased and Sam Bush and Andy threw down their cards. A short moment in the greenroom lead to a quick return to the stage for "Uncle Pen" with Andy on vocals to close night one! It was a fantastic evening with some of the genre's greats in an intimate setting. As the music concluded, folks made their way to open arcade games for one last round of excitement for the evening. Backstage, the assembled group of musicians wound down from their sold out show. The excitement level was high for the following night and as the evening turned to morning, the musicians departed the venue.

Saturday March 28, 2015:

Once again, the band turned out mid-afternoon for rehearsal, but this time all of the gear was set up and the vibe was relaxed. Backstage sat a stack of posters for each band member to sign and as Sam Grisman did so, Sam Bush jumped into joke mode. I glanced up on stage and made eye contact with Sam Bush, who held his finger up to his mouth as to say "shhh." He reached down with a smile on his face and lowered the pin on Sam Grisman's bass, while the rest of the band looked on holding back laughter. Sam Grisman finished signing the posters and returned to the stage to pick up his bass. There was a moment of confusion as he glanced down at his bass suggesting that it had shrunk, to which the rest of the band burst into laughter.

Following a strong rehearsal the band broke for dinner and some rest before what would be their second sold out show in a row. Around 9:00 PM, Poor Man's Whiskey opened the evening. What started out sounding like a traditional vibe, quickly expanded into an effect-filled jam that had folks moving. Through an hour and fifteen minutes, PMW dug into a bunch of ripping material that took on a rock feel, with drums and electric guitar. The amount of space that they created was fascinating and much heavier than your normal bluegrass band. As their set passed the mid-point, the venue was packed and more folks were streaming in to party. Toward the end of PMW's set, the room was full and buzzing, as was the band who was clearly having a good time! Towards the end of their set, the band dove into a fantastic version of Paul Simon's "Boy In The Bubble," triggering a massive applause! Upon the conclusion of their set, they were greeted with compliments from the Denver Bluegrass Generals backstage.

The Denver Bluegrass Generals hit the stage around 10:30 PM and began with Jimmy Martin's "Sunny Side of The Mountain" with Sam Bush fielding the vocals. Up next was a song that the Del McCoury Band once recorded, Larry Keel's "Mountain Song," which was a definite crowd favorite. Andy Hall lead the charge on Tom Petty's "American Girl." The crowd went nuts and sang along loudly leading up to the solo section which was impressive and deep. "Funk 42" followed with similar depth and crazy instrumentation.

"Spank you! We've got just a whole variety of things you can do with these kinds of instruments. Here's one more on the bluegrass side that we'll do for you..." - Sam Bush

"Ole Slew Foot" triggered the room to move and bounce like crazy as the band tore through solos with precision. As Sam Bush sang the chorus "Some folks say he looks a lot like me," Larry Keel yelled "Sam" into the microphone. On the next round Sam playfully sang "some folks say he looked a lot like Keel!" It was a humorous moment that reflected the light vibe on stage and how much fun the band was having playing with one another. "Get It While You Can" was lead by Andy and included a heavy solo from Larry that had people shaking their heads with delight. A song that Doc Watson used to do, "Ground Hog," featured Larry's deep vocals and warm laugh as he picked along. "Old Joe Clark" followed with Chris leaning into the banjo and Sam Bush on fiddle. It was interesting to think of how many times in history this song must have been played and to think that it had probably never been picked in an arcade made me laugh. The mid-section was extremely loose and progressive. It was incredible to watch the younger musicians playing with the creator of the genre in which their music falls. There were so many smiles and there was so much respect for Sam Bush throughout the two nights. The bridging of the traditional "Old Joe Clark" with a such an incredible and progressive jam, made me realize how lucky we were to be witnessing such magic.

Earlier that evening I had the pleasure of seeing Fareed Haque, Tony Monaco and Greg Fundis at Dazzle. I was blown away by their incredible output and it was nice to break up my weekend a bit with a little Jazz. I glanced at my phone and noticed that I had received a text from Fareed saying that he was on his way. I met Fareed and Greg out front and took them to the greenroom where we were later joined by Tony. I looked forward to the possibility of my favorite guitarist sitting in on a bluegrass show. Jeff Black's "Same Old River" featured Sam Bush on the mic and included beautiful solos all around to close the first Generals set of the evening. They returned to the greenroom with excitement from the output of the first half of their second night. One set remained and the band began to relax and get loose for what was sure to be the climax of the weekend! Before they took the stage for the final set, the band huddled up as Chris shared his gratitude for everyone's presence that weekend.

The Generals returned with a hop in their step and began with "Doin' My Time!" Larry sang and picked with fury as the crowd hooted and hollered with appreciation. Andy lead the way on "Head Over Heels In love With You" before Chris upped the tempo and fast paced solos ensued. Andy then welcomed a couple of the evening's special guests to the stage; Fareed Haque and Emily Clark! The crowd went wild with excitement!

"We like to do stuff that hasn't been done before and that's why we love playing here in Denver, because you guys are so appreciative. We can get musicians together, we can make a band and you guys appreciate it and we love that..." - Andy Hall

Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman" came next to the delight of the capacity crowd. People screamed the words loudly along with Emily's beautiful vocals. Fareed leaned in with descending licks following Emily's line before Larry took over walking towards Fareed with a huge smile on his face. Then my hopes and dreams came true when two of my favorite guitarists on the planet battled it out. The hair stood up on my arms and a solitary tear fell from my cheek as the room erupted. As Fareed waved and went to step off the stage, Andy insisted that he remain for another, to which he obliged.

"Hey, how many people have been at the festival all four days?" -Sam Bush

The Steeldrivers' "Drinkin' Dark Whiskey" featured Emily and Andy on vocals. Fareed added some honkeytonk sounding guitar to the mix adding a dynamic sound. The crowd was pleased and so was I.

"Denver, how are you guys doing tonight? It's Saturday night and we've got Sam Bush and Larry Keel and Sam Grisman in the house! Look it, see what's going on up here? You guys gotta step it up, come on. Keel's slammin' beers right here in front of you!" Andy exclaimed with a laugh.

"Hey, I ain't fuckin' scared of you, Hoss... at all," Larry spoke with a rumble, to which Andy laughed.

"The backstage story will come out later," Larry said with a threatening tone before laughs insued.

"Shit, now I am scared. Keel's got that voice, man..." Andy said.

An instrumental tune came next with Chris climbing on the banjo before breaking it down. A short, but sweet "White House Blues" came next with Sam Bush up front and the band picking through some hot licks with speed to the end. A slower number began with some beautiful lines from Keel and Andy before Larry started singing. The song built and built before taking off with Chris ripping on the banjo and flying through notes. Sam Bush picked up the fiddle once again and jumped into Newgrass Revival's "Vamp In The Middle," only slowing for a second to go into an incredible explorative instrumental. The music took a turn towards a different direction with Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" featuring Andy and Emily once again.

"All you can say to this bunch is 'shred!' Shred on boys!" - Benny "Burle" Galloway

Special guest and song-writing legend, Benny "Burle" Galloway jumped up for "Poor House," which featured Burle singing in his characteristic raspy voices. It was a pleasure to have such an influential character join in on the pickin' party! Another instrumental followed with incredible picking and beautiful melodies. Following the final band introductions of the weekend, the Denver Bluegrass Generals jumped into "Sitting On Top of the World," and right from the get go, Larry jumped into a solo at double speed before Sam Bush and Andy stepped up on vocals. Chris then jumped in at double time, eventually passing to Andy before everyone jumped back in and threw down collectively to the end. The crowd cheered and then cheered some more, demanding the return of the battalion. A few minutes in the greenroom yielded a band refueled for one last battle.

The final song of the weekend, Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home," started low, meandering along, slowly building. Larry handled the vocals as well as an effect-laden solo before handing it off to Chris who was all over the neck of the banjo. The jam got quiet as all members of the band sunk lower and lower until they were physically kneeling on the stage. They then jumped up and chaotically made what can only be described as "noise" on their instruments until the final note.

"Well that's the weirdest thing I've ever done on stage by far!" -Chris Pandolfi

Chris then thanked the crowd as the Generals returned to the greenroom victorious! The greenroom took on a celebratory vibe and friends came to say hello and party. There were a ton of hugs, handshakes and photos, as well as no shortage of hi-fives. The weekend was a huge success and to my knowledge was the first two nights in a row that have sold out at The 1up - Colfax. As the morning grew later, the party dissapated until all that was left were the staff who were cleaning up the venue, myself and the audio team. It was clear that a massive party had taken place in that room. It was clear that Denver, CO loved bluegrass. And it was clear that the war was not over. The Denver Bluegrass Generals would fight another day...

Jim's Friday Photo Gallery

Jim's Saturday Gallery

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Main Squeeze & The Congress 4.11.15 (Photos)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Conversation With Mary Frances of Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band

Interview & Photos By Scott Shrader (J. Scott Shrader Photography)
Words By Lena Brodsky

Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band is a name that is hard to forget, and if you’ve had the pleasure of “getting the funk down” with The Booty Band, then that’s something you will not forget either. I had the pleasure of chatting with Mary Frances, aka Mama Funk, while the band was on their West Coast tour through Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. When I spoke to Mary, the band was on their way to Oregon, kicking off an impressive 12-day run of shows to wrap up the tour.

For anyone who’s not familiar with “The Booty Band,” the outfit consists of Lee Allen (Drums), Mary Frances (Keys), Al-A Ingram (Bass), John-Paul Miller (Guitar) and Derrick Johnson (Trombone). The group pretty much has one mission: to deliver the funk. They’re best known for having a heavy funk/rock sound with influences from hip-hop. Their live shows often have an entire audience shaking their booty and feeling the funk.

The band proudly calls Asheville, NC home and this mountain town inspires a great deal of their songs. Asheville has a strong music scene that the band is highly involved in. For instance, at Asheville Music Hall’s “Tuesday Night Funk Jam,” members of Yo Mama’s and other musicians in the area participate in an improv session. According to Mary, those jams inspire ideas for songs and help with the songwriting process. She also credited the outdoor scenery of Asheville with helping her writing; she mentioned doing a lot of her writing by the rivers that go through the town. Since Moog Factory is in Asheville, that close proximity boosts Mary’s set-up, so it includes many different moog keys and pedals and she also rocks Mother Vintage Keyboards.

The band’s upcoming album, “Funk Life,” was recorded at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC; it’s the band’s fourth studio album. Mary described the record as “feel good funk” that will have you singing along in no time, and I have to agree with her. The title track “Funk Life” jumps out at you within seconds, and that pattern continues throughout the whole record. Drummer, Lee Allen, helped produce and engineer the record along with Julian Dryers and others. There were various inspirations for the songs on the new record, and Mary says two of songs actually came to her in her dreams. While in Chicago she awoke one night with all of the arrangements to “Wake Yourself,” and quickly got up and recorded her ideas with her phone. “Living in a Dream” was another dream-inspired tune where she met George Clinton & Garry Shider during her slumber and they taught her the song.

Just listening to this record, it is obvious that many different genres influence the band. Mary said while on the road the driver always controls the radio, so they have been listening to a variety of music. She mentioned Kendrick Lamar, Bonobo, Quanitic, and D’angelo’s new record, along with others. Sola Rosa is a New Zealand-based band that Yo Mama’s stumbled across on Pandora that they have really been enjoying lately, and I recommend giving them a listen.

Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band wraps up their West Coast tour with a string of shows in Colorado; the last night is on April 19 in WinterPark. The group will then take a couple weeks off to rest and enjoy the springtime weather in Asheville. They hit the road again in May for Phunkberry Festival in Arkansas, followed by a North East run as well as many summer dates to follow. Be on the look out for Yo Mama’s in a town near you, and make sure you don’t miss a band with the one of a kind sound of North Carolina funk.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cabinet 3.27.15

Lost Lake Lounge
Denver, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Optimystic Outlooks)

East Colfax's Lost Lake Lounge was a dismal bunker of Denver's musical landscape. Entering the lounge, I was immediately confronted with the worst layout I've ever seen. The bar arched widely into the floor space by the stage. Behind the bar was a wall obscuring the view of half the room. The result was about 80% unusable area in what may have been an ok space. The walls were a patchwork of drywall, poster board, wood, and trinkets. The vibe was of a rustic workspace housing a barn dance. Though the venue wasn't the classiest I'd seen, it did add an element of antiquity that seemed to work with Cabinet's old timey catalog.

With an advertised showtime of 12:30am, I wasn't alone in questioning the late start. Adding to the delay were sound issues, resulting in a rather short set for the $15.00 cover charge. Fortunately, Cabinet were professionals and delivered a set of high quality. Given the time and setting limitations, the Appalachian ensemble were quick to get into high gear and had the crowd stomping in a hot minute.

Anchored by Dylan Skursky and Jami Novak's rhythm section, the band took turns starting fires on their various instruments. Guitarist Mickey Coviello laid down some impressive flat picking and JP Biondo gripped and ripped his mandolin with power and speed. Pappy's banjo sang melodic lines between blazing riffs, but fiddle playing Todd Kopec was simply playing out of his mind. He was passionate, vibrant, technical, versatile, and downright show-stealing. In a relatively short time, Cabinet had worked their way onto the list of my favorite bluegrass bands, and the Lost Lake Lounge was full of people who shared my enthusiasm for the Scranton Sextet.

With their characteristic traditional flavor, they sprinkled in a variety of covers, old songs, and new ones, all with their own brand of bluegrass. My favorites were "Heavy Rain," "Dove," and their cover of The Byrds' "Mr. Spaceman." Their chemistry was organic and they salvaged what was shaping up to be a disappointment through sheer talent and professionalism.

I hadn't seen Cabinet since their last journey to Colorado in 2012. I was sure that was due to their limited exposure in the Mile High. A young lady I talked to said that they reminded her of the early years of String Cheese Incident, and she was having a blast. She told me she hadn't even heard of them before a friend asked her to come out to the show. So, the word was spreading, which gave me hope that the next Cabinet-rado run might come sooner than later.

At 1:45 AM I attempted to buy a beer and was told it was "shots only," because of the time. At 1:50 AM, Pappy told the crowd they had a few more for us... Attempting to give us a little something extra. He was immediately amended by the staff telling him only one more. At 2:00 AM an employee came around to collect any unfinished beers and shoo us all out the door. We refused and volunteered to slam the beer before leaving (which he allowed). I left hoping the next time I saw Cabinet would be in a better setting, one in which the patrons weren't treated so poorly. Good thing those boys could play!

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Belle & Sebastian and Perfume Genius 4.7.15 (Photos)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Dark Star Orchestra 4.1.15 (Photos)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Leftover Salmon & Friends 3.28.15 (Photos)

Cannery Ballroom
Nashville, TN

Photos By Will Rawls (The Lot Scene)

View Will's Full Gallery Here!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Twiddle & Jaden Carlson Band 3.14.15

The Aggie Theatre
Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

With a handful of friends, old and new, I ventured to Fort Collins' Aggie Theatre to indulge in another night of Twiddle. I was immediately delighted to see Jaden Carlson was the only opener. That meant Twiddle would likely play the second set that Denver could have used.

Jaden looked at home on stage, expertly dropping guitar solos and sonic waves with hints of Buckethead, Steve Vai, and several other freakish virtuosos. Her set was phenomenal, highlighted by a cover of "Listen to the Music" with all of Twiddle guesting. She and her musical allies also "Rick Rolled" us with a surprise cover of Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up."

When Twiddle hit the stage next, I was optimistic that we would get two sets. As the first set kicked off, the vibe seemed quite different than the previous show in Denver. The crowd, much thinner, was of a different variety. CSU students accounted for the the majority of the room, and the underage area was packed. With a slightly altered consciousness, I connected with the music heavily, and was focused on the elements that made up their sound.

First, there was the obvious... Phish. Being a four piece band from Vermont that plays heavy compositional improv rock was bound to draw that parallel. It was relevant in the sense that they approached composition and exploratory jamming in a similar way to the Phearsome Phoursome, but there was much more to it than that. The calypso rhythms and positive lyrics displayed an energy derivative of the String Cheese Incident, while their frenzied precision was more like Umphrey's McGee. But even that fell short of the whole story. Through a tune that seemed to be straight out of Moe.'s catalog, and into territory that reminded me of 311, their diversity within the realm of styles I love was vast.

I also liked the Fort Collins show a bit better because they did play more of the material I knew. My first set highlights were "Pachelbel's Canon in D" and "Doinkinbonk," the latter of which contained "Too Many Puppies" by Primus. As the band took a break, so did we, refreshing our drinks and grabbing some air. When second set began, the band slipped straight into psychedelic waters. I really enjoyed "Wasabi Eruption> The Box," which was full of energy, much like early moe. material. "Apples" with the entire Jaden Carlson Band was a rocker as well.

On my first listen, I didn't care for Mihali's voice, but it has grown on me gradually, and now I actually enjoy it quite a bit. I thought all of the musicians were well above average, and at times showed glimpses of sheer brilliance. While there was room for improvement, the margins were small. They easily followed each other through lengthy compositional passages, into jams, and out the other side with nary a snare. As the last night of a tour that had Twiddle canvassing the state over the course of two weeks, the band still seemed fresh, happy, excited, and ready for more.

With a shade over four months until their debut at iconic Red Rocks (opening for the String Cheese Incident), Twiddle seemed to be committed to their path, and a blooming community seemed to be ready to walk it with them. They had earned their way into my personal listening rotation, and I expected them to stay there for a while.

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