Friday, December 30, 2016

The New Mastersounds & Turkuaz 12.17.16

The Orange Peel
Asheville, NC

Words By Taylor Hall
Photos By J. Scott Shrader Photography

The week before Christmas is always a joyous time. A time to give thanks and enjoy the fruits of your labor. A time to drink, eat, and be merry. Saturday night was no different, as The New Mastersounds and Turkuaz, ended their fall tour at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC.

The night started with Turkuaz, a 9 piece "Powerfunk" outfit hailing from Brooklyn, NY. Turkuaz sounds like the Talking Heads and Rick James had a musical child, minus the glitter and over sized suits. Their songs boast strong melodies and catchy choruses. Their live show features strong vocal performances, killer horn solos,incredible guitar work, and a hyped up bass player that would make Bootsy Collins proud. Overall Turkuaz puts on a great live performance with plenty of energy to keep the party going.

The New Mastersounds took the stage shortly after Turkuaz starting with a song off of Therapy titled "Monday Meters." The band would then take the crowd on a journey through their catalog, touching on tracks from Made For Pleasure, Out From The Faultline, Ten Years On, and more. The New Mastersounds are known for their new age jazzfunk dance party, and were not to shy to keep their reputation alive and well. The set included a barrage of sit-ins from varying members of Turkuaz, which was a welcomed surprise.

The Turkuaz horn section came out about midway through the set to join The New Mastersounds on a killer version of Billy Preston's "Will It Run Round In Circles." The horn section was prevalent for most of the set after that, touching on classic NMS tunes. The encore would include two songs that NMS and Turkuaz wrote together. The song "On The Border" sounds like classic Parliament Funk, boasting a beautiful vocal chorus and infectious groove, true funk at it's finest. Look for these two bands to do a lot of work with each other in the future. Their stylings are so well matched, that it seems that destiny or fate brought them together to forge the path of a new funk revolution.

Scott's Photo Gallery

Setlist: Monday Meters, Way Out West, MRG, In the Middle, Flimsy Lewis, Sitting On My Knees, Will it Go Round in Circles#, I am Somebody%, Turn this Thing Around^, Jan Jan&, Never Did I Ever @, Expressway!, One Note Brown

Encore: On the Border*, The Rules**


#- with horns from Turkuaz and Josh on vocals
%- with Greg from Turkuaz
^- with Sammi and horns
&- with Michelangelo Carubba on drums and Turkuaz horns
@- with Shira and horns
!- with both Sammi and Shira and horns
*-with Turkuaz and with bass player & drummer from Turkuaz
**-with Turkuaz and with bass player & drummer from New Mastersounds

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Henhouse Prowlers 12.8.16

Swing Station
Laporte, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)

When you hear that the Henhouse Prowlers are playing at the local watering hole around the corner from your house you don’t ask questions, you just go. This now legendary outfit from Chicago tours the globe with a traditional style steeped in modernity. Celebrating over a decade as a touring band, the Prowlers have had a rotating cast of supporting musicians, but founding members Ben Wright and Jon Goldfine are the underpinning on which this group is built. Guitarist Aaron Dorfman and newest member mandolinist and fiddler Kyle Patrick O’Brien make up the rest of the lineup currently. Even though the personnel changes from time to time, the musicianship never ceases to impress. They were fresh off a tour in Africa before returning to Colorado for a series of shows that included a date with another celebrated Chicago band, Cornmeal, at the Swing Station.

The Swing Station is a renowned, but often overlooked honky-tonk venue in the Colorado music scene. With shows nightly, this establishment represents a throwback to a bygone era of roadhouses and biker bars. These days though if you ride your pedal bike in you get a buck off any Colorado drafts and the chances of a brawl are slim. The Bar SS, as it was previously known, gives a home to locals and traveling musicians alike. Most Bluegrass fans found themselves across town at the Aggie to see the Travelin’ McCourys, but those looking for a more intimate affair headed to the outskirts. I arrived adorned in my Sexfist shirt and was immediately confronted by HHP’s road manager, Allison, who informed me that I had won a prize. She handed me a koozie before returning to her post at the merch stand. We were already off to a good start.

The Henhouse Prowlers treated us to two sets starting promptly at 9 PM. Never one to be confined to a set list, the Prowlers play spontaneously and from the heart. This means that no two shows are ever the same and anything can happen. They warmed us up early with the title track from their latest album Still On That Ride. Ben Wright’s rambling banjo snapped the band to attention on the darkly poetic ill-fated love song “Caroline.” Dorfman came to the ribbon mic for the appropriately twangy “Nashville Here I Come.” Fans danced feverishly to the Bluegrass version of Shel Silverstein’s “The Cover Of A Rolling Stone.” The Prowlers have become known internationally for putting a traditional Bluegrass spin on Nigerian pop tunes. One such track “Chop My Money” was a huge highlight during the first set. Goldfine returned to mic for the traditional “Take Me Back To You” into the shadowy and brooding “Uncle Bubba.” They closed with an unbelievable version of Hendrix’s “Fire.”

Despite the relative newness of O’Brien this band was playing on point. Their time on the road is long and it shows when they hit the stage. After about a twenty-five-minute break HHP returned for another set of music. They performed until around midnight with songs ranging from a native Ugandan tune to the Grateful Dead’s “Mr. Charlie.” The speed grass number, “Lonesome Road” also sung by Goldfine was stunning. They continued with a Bluegrass indictment of televangelist and Gospel Tents, “Soul Saver.” Bill Monroe’s “In The Pines” and The Bluegrass Cardinal’s “Up and Down The Mountain” showed the Prowler’s more traditional side. They ended the night as they usually do by coming off the stage and picking a few tunes with the audience wrapped around them like a warm blanket. Throughout the night some fans snuck away to catch the McCourys, leaving only the hardcore left for the audience pick. And with a quick goodbye it was over. The Henhouse Prowlers draw you into their space and their musical sensibility quickly. They overpower with their impressive picking and interesting song choices. Their catalog of originals and covers seem limitless and that adds to the air of anticipation at every show. Fans made the trek to the edge of town for this clandestine show were not disappointed. The Henhouse Prowers are and continue to be a Bluegrass phenomenon worth your attention.

Nick’s Photo Gallery

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

MusicMarauders Spotify Playlist - Volume Nine 12.28.16

Monday, December 26, 2016

John Kadlecik & Phuncle Sam 12.19.16 (Photos)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Scott Pemberton 12.16.16 (Photos)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Scott Pemberton, Yak Attack, Cecil Moses & The SGs 12.15.16 (Photos)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

MusicMarauders Spotify Holiday Playlist - Volume Eight 12.21.16

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rising Appalachia 12.15.16 (Photos)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Warren Hayne's 28th Annual Christmas Jam 12.10.16 (Photos)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Travelin' McCourys w/ Bill Nershi 12.10.16 (Photos)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Jon Stickley Trio 'Triangular'

Words By Daniel Connor

Instrumental music can get lost in itself, trying to overcompensate for lyrics, with technicality. This band is not that, the 3 piece consisting of Jon Stickley on guitar, Lyndsay Pruett on violin, and Patrick Armitage on drums, is a grooving force of nature. While all three are complete and professional musicians, they keep their music very fun and accessible. A lot of acoustic music is very similar and you almost have to have an interest in it to stop and listen to it. The Jon Stickley Trio reminds us that Bluegrass can be fun and expansive at the same time and that we don’t have to sacrifice musicianship for dance-ability.

This is a touring band and it comes through with how locked into each other’s playing they are. The guitar player and namesake of the band is one of the best flat pickers I’ve ever seen/heard; He reminds me of Tony Rice, just with more notes. He has absolutely effortless technique and is quite the showman. Armitage probably has the coolest job description in the world as a progressive Bluegrass drummer. You don’t hear too much actual percussion in this type of music, but they have a full on Rock-and-Roll drummer. He can play a Salsa beat just as good as he can play a John Bonham type Rock slinging solo. Last but not least is Pruett, who is an absolute show stopper. I’ve never been a big violin fan, but this girl has complete control over her instrument. She is a fire breathing dragon when it’s her turn to show her chops.

The EP starts with the song "Blackburn Rovers," an upbeat guitar song with a nice Latin backbeat. This really showcases Stickley's guitar playing and has some awesome guitar drum interplay. Next up is "Plain Sight," which was written after the shootings at The Bataclan in Paris. There is a definite somber tone to the song, with beautiful rhythm guitar playing under soaring violin work from Pruett and Armitage really cooking it up underneath all those textures. There is some great call and response guitar/fiddle work towards the end of this one, with lots of emotion captured.

"Palm Tree" starts on a more upbeat, happy note especially in comparison to the darker tone of "Plain Sight." This is truly Pruett's time to shine and show her musical prowess. All three get together to really progress this song forward, together with Stickley taking the guitar for a walk towards the end. "Echolocation" is the penultimate track and really takes the progressive feel to another level. It’s an almost conceptual song, written for whales and other underwater creatures, and if you go into the song knowing that it really enhances it. It features some awesome Western/cowboy guitar in the middle section and some massive arpeggios from the violin and guitar during a rock throwing drum solo rounding it all out. This song really shows off the bands musicianship, unique sound and range. The final number on the Triangular EP is a tribute to past musicians that paved the way for bands like JST. "Manzanita" is a song originally written by what I would assume was Stickley's hero, Tony Rice. Stickley really turns on the flat picking here and the drums are a welcome sound in this New-Grass classic. I can’t help but think Tony would love this version of his song, in all its progressive-ness.

Overall, this is an exciting new EP from an exciting young band. I don’t really know what to call it, but I’m going to go with "Prog-grass" until I can think of something better. It’s exciting to have NEW and good instrumental music and I’m really looking forward to watching all of these musicians grow together and in the scene.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Sunsquabi 12.6.16

Doug Fir Lounge
Portland, OR

Words By Mitch Melheim
Photos By Coleman Schwartz Photography

Boulder, Colorado’s SunSquabi brought their self-dubbed “Electronic Hydro Funk” to Portland, Oregon’s Doug Fir Lounge for their headlining debut in the Rose City. Fresh off of the recently announced departure of band co-founder and bassist, Andrew Clymer, I was anxious to see what the band’s immediate future held.

Fortunately, they quickly acquired a new bassist in Analog Son’s, Josh Fairman, hair included. Little was lost with the new bassist, or at least not as much as I expected. Clymer was undeniably talented, but you can tell that Fariman is more used to playing with humans than computers which actually seems to be a positive thing, lending a looser and more live sound to the new configuration of the band.

They opened with “SquabCat” which was a familiar song for most in attendance. The opening synth got everybody moving until guitarist/keyboardist Kevin Donohue broke into his first funky guitar riff of the night, giving everybody a groove to settle into. Like the opening song, the set was heavy on material from their EP Odyssey that was released earlier this year in April. Other standout tracks from the album played during the show were the title track “Odyssey,” which features Griz, and “After The Rain” an even funkier than usual song from them that oddly enough came on the verge of snow in Portland, not rain.

Donohue seems to be the leader of the band when they’re on stage and is talented at what he does, usually providing nothing too flashy aside from the occasional solo behind his head. He does a great job of working between playing keys, guitar, and DJing all in a matter of seconds in
some cases.

Drummer, Chris Anderson, provides a crucial live element with his drumming that is necessary to separate SunSquabi from some of their future funk counterparts. That being said, I think they could benefit from adding an electronic drum pad into his kit to compliment the electronic
element provided by Donohue’s production. New song “Pygmy Up,” just released last week and featuring the wubbed out trumpeteer, Russ Liquid, was a definite highlight of the show. It’s a reassuring sign that most of this band’s recent music sounds better to me than their older work does, a statement that I often times cannot make about the bands that I listen to.

SunSquabi has done a commendable job at creating both a unique and trademark sound in a genre that’s recent surplus in popularity has spawned more than a few copycat acts. They managed to explore multiple genres throughout the show from Funk and Drum & Bass to an unexpected appearance of instrumental Doom Metal at one point, all while maintaining that recognizable SunSquabi sound. With the recent news of the bands lineup change, people may have been unsure of the future, but one thing that’s for sure is that these guys aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

Coleman's Photo Gallery

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Greensky Bluegrass 12.1 - 12.3.16

The Ogden Theatre
Denver, CO

Words By Mitch Melheim
Photos By Nancy Isaac & Doug Fondriest

Landing directly between the weekend prior’s hometown throw-down in Kalamazoo, Michigan and the next weekend’s trip to Bluegrass paradise for Strings & Sol, was a three-night run at Denver’s Ogden Theatre that could’ve easily fallen into the shadows, but instead thrived off of the energy and excitement surrounding it. New covers, rare originals, and exploratory jams ruled the weekend as Greensky Bluegrass continues to top themselves and seem to thoroughly enjoy the process of doing so.

Thursday, December 1:

The weekend featured a different opening act each night, Thursday’s opener being Nederland, Colorado’s Gipsy Moon. Led by Silas Herman’s virtuosity on the mandolin and Mackenzie Page’s beautiful voice, Gipsy Moon plays a unique style of music that may be best described as “Gipsy-grass” and sounds a bit like Elephant Revival, but more uptempo and chalk-full of world-beat influence. I’ve always found myself impressed with this band, but seeing them for the first time with recently added percussionist Omar Altabal added more than expected to the performance and left me anxious to find out what the band’s future holds.

Greensky opened up the weekend with the heavy-hitting fan-favorite “Don’t Lie” and the seventeen minutes that followed made sure to let everyone in attendance know that this run was not to be taken lightly, sort of like the musical equivalent of your car beeping at you to put your seatbelt on. It was time to strap in.

“While Waiting” off of their recently released album Shouted, Written Down, and Quoted came next and allowed the crowd to catch their breath a bit before the gospel classic “Jesus On The Mainline” had everybody moving again.

“Lose My Way” followed and opened the show back up a bit with some improvisation. A personal favorite of mine, “Lose My Way” exhibits many of the reasons why I like this band so much from the honest, relatable songwriting to the well-developed and always satisfying jams. “Jaywalking” then bounced it’s twangy self around until entering outer space for a spacey segue into another new song, the dark and eerie “More Of Me.”

Gipsy Moon’s Silas Herman was invited onto the stage next and dubbed, “one of the best mandolin players alive,” by Greensky mandolinist Paul Hoffman. Their funky version of the traditional “Working On A Building” was short, but sweet as was the “Burn Them” that followed, proving sit-ins can be efficient, believe it or not, as Herman still managed to impress anyone that didn’t catch his opening set. The highlight of his appearance was his duel with Hoffman during “Working On A Building,” although the unique latin-inspired sound he added to “Burn Them” was a close second. It’s extremely refreshing to hear a mandolinist explore rhythms you don’t typically get to hear in Bluegrass and that’s one thing you can usually count on with Silas Herman.

After a quick set break, the underplayed treat “Grow Bananas” followed before another rarity, this time the instrumental “Roberta” was played for a birthday girl not named Roberta, but Maggie. Happy belated Maggie.

A blazing cover of New Grass Revival’s oft-covered “Can’t Stop Now” followed and became one of the highlights of the show when during the “breakdown” section of the song, Hoffman teased some lyrics from Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” which led to the band slowing down to a reggae-esque tempo and eventually debuting the Petty cover before speeding up and segueing back into “Can’t Stop Now” which contained plenty more “Breakdown” teases.

Hoffman’s “Can’t Make Time” was next and continued the trend of rare songs as this one is so rarely played that it was used as his excuse for badly butchering the lyrics, which the crowd loved. A humbled Hoffman apologized after the song and suggested, “maybe we’ll try it again tomorrow,” to which dobro player Anders Beck joked, “And if you fuck it up tomorrow, there’s always the next day!”

Guitarist Dave Bruzza’s “Freeborn Man” followed and featured a hefty amount of improvisation as well as a miniature heavy metal demonstration from Beck in the beginning. Michael Arlen Bont’s banjo ripped this song up and down. I’ve always used him as sort of a measuring stick for the band. If Bont is hot, the band is on fire.

The band then segued into “The Four,” a twangy song off of their 2014 album If Sorrows Swim and then the quirky new Bruzza tune “Take Cover.” A long, jammed-out take of Bruce Hornsby’s “King Of The Hill” followed and provided some of the more exploratory improvisation of the night.

The band’s most popular song “Windshield” closed out the second set and left me pleasantly surprised. Closing a second set with a slow song is typically a pet peeve of mine, but the gregarious feeling of singing along at the top of your lungs with 1,600 other Campers (as the Greensky Bluegrass fanbase is referred to) is a wonderful feeling that gives “Windshield” a “hall pass” as a set closer.

After an encore break, the band came out for a mulligan of the previously played “Can’t Make Time” which went swimmingly this time around. A cover of Dire Straits’s “Money For Nothing” closed out the encore. While not necessarily a song I yearn for, it is always fun and satisfying as an encore closer.

Set One: Don’t Lie, While Waiting, Jesus On The Mainline, Lose My Way, Jaywalking > More Of Me, Working On A Building*, Burn Them*

Set Two: Grow Bananas, Roberta, Can’t Stop Now > Breakdown > Can’t Stop Now, Can’t Make Time, Freeborn Man > The Four, Take Cover, King Of The Hill, Windshield

Encore: Can’t Make Time , Money For Nothing

*with Silas Herman

Friday, December 2:

After filling my face with Torchy’s Tacos, I made my way back to the Ogden Theatre for night two. A fantastic venue in theory, the Ogden begins to suffer tremendously when the crowds get larger. Night one was sold out just like the other two nights, but there was a bit of dancing room left. On Friday and Saturday though, you had to fight for every inch that you had. I showed up just twenty minutes after doors had opened to find an already crowded balcony. These people knew what they were doing. I was going to have to search elsewhere and try again earlier the next day. A buddy and I eventually settled down on the floor, squished between some drunk folks, but the pleasant kind; for the most part.

Colorado’s The Drunken Hearts opened up the second night with their brand of “Alt-Americana.” They blend together a few different styles of music such as Country and 90' alt-rock to a more jammy sound a la Poor Man’s Whiskey or Grant Farm.

Greensky opened night two with “Merely Avoiding,” a break up song off of the new album built upon a mixture of blunt honesty and common sense, Paul Hoffman trademarks. Beck’s instrumental tune “Broke Mountain Breakdown” followed and brought with it early energy and a phenomenal jam that pushed past it’s typical funky filling into a spacey expedition, culminating in a Rock-n-Roll peak that segued into an unexpected cover of Joe Walsh’s “Walk Away” and then Bruzza’s “Wings For Wheels.”

Next up was another Bruzza-led tune, this time the fast and fun Jimmy Martin cover “Hit Parade of Love.” I can’t explain why I like this song so much, I can only reiterate how fun of a song it is to see live. Afterwards, the band slowed it down, very literally, with a downtempo ska first verse in “Fixin’ To Ruin” before finishing it out the normal way. Once finished, Hoffman joked that the ska version can be found if you listen to the album backwards (after buying it from their merch booth and smoking legal recreational marijuana) and then busted into an even more exaggerated ska version of the song.

Handguns’ rugged “No Idea” followed and preceded the relevant Stanley Brothers’ tune “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” Hoffman made sure to reiterate its relevance by letting the women in the audience know that they are, in fact, the mountain girls the song is about.

The band then invited the Infamous Stringdusters’ Andy Hall onto the stage to play some dobro. While he was getting set up, Hoffman let it slip that Greensky would be playing Red Rocks again in 2017, referencing his initial fear and ensuing joy that he felt after selling out Red Rocks earlier this year with Leftover Salmon.

The first song for the double dobro set-up was the dark and heavy “Worried About The Weather.” The plot of this song is great as it starts out fairly happy, progressively getting darker and darker until that final jam rolls around and the evil peaks. Getting the opportunity to hear Beck and Hall play off of each other was a treat for a twang-junkie like myself. Hall stayed out for the set closing cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” ending some quieter but equally appreciated accompaniment to the song.

Hoffman’s “Demons” opened the second set, followed by the beloved Bruzza tune “200 Miles From Montana.” Afterwards another guest was invited to this stage, this one of legendary status. Hot Rize bassist Nick Forster, co-host of NPR’s eTown program which Greensky had appeared on earlier in the week arrived on stage to play electric guitar.

The first song Forster appeared on was the rare Nathan Moore cover “Catch Me A Jesus.” Like many others, this song sat near the top of my “yet-to-see” list and I was ecstatic to hear it played, with Nick Forster nonetheless. Forster’s guitar tone added some atmospheric texture to the eerie tune and the song eventually culminated in him, Beck, and Bruzza each momentarily displaying their chops.

The traditional tune “Climbing Up A Mountain” followed with Bruzza and Forster sharing the vocals. An experience Bruzza called both “intimidating” and “exciting” after the song was over. “I’ve been listening to Hot Rize for a long time. That was really something very special,” Bruzza reiterated as Forester made his way off-stage.

Next up was “Living Over,” a monstrous song that has settled its way deep into the hearts of many Campers just months after its debut. Often used as a set closer, getting a mid-set “Living Over” jam was a sure sign that nothing was to be taken lightly from there on out.

Another song off of the new album came next, this time “Room Without A Roof,” followed by the brutally honest (even by Hoffman standards) “Just To Lie.” The “turn for the worst” so to speak that this song takes at the end has become one of my favorites and typically brings upon a great segue. Recently, Hoffman has been cleverly filling the spacey ending of this song with Fruition vocal teases that actually come in the form of lyrics that are already in “Just To Lie.”

The song’s streak of satisfaction continued for me again, segueing into the dark and hopeless “Bottle Dry.” The perfect song to follow its predecessor, “Bottle Dry” is a great example of how well this supposed bluegrass band can play in space, both vocally and instrumentally.

A direct segue out of darkness into the even darker “Kerosene” unleashed evil upon the Ogden Theatre for an explosive set closer. Bruzza’s guitar, as usual, was the standout on this version but Mike Devol’s bass is more often than not a close second. His powerful bass plays a huge part in their occasionally heavy rock’n’roll sound.

The encore choice was another cover of one of their contemporaries, this time Rayland Baxter’s “Yellow Eyes.” Inevitably reminded of the Fruition teases and Nathan Moore cover from earlier, I thought to myself about how refreshing it is to be apart of a music scene in which everybody shows so much support for one another.

Set One: Merely Avoiding, Broke Mountain Breakdown > Walk Away > Wings For Wheels, Hit Parade Of Love, Fixin’ To Ruin, No Idea, How Mountain Girls Can Love, Worried About The Weather*, Atlantic City*

Set Two: Demons, 200 Miles From Montana, Catch Me A Jesus#, Climbing A Mountain#, Living Over, Room Without A Roof, Just To Lie > Bottle Dry > Kerosene

Encore: Yellow Eyes

* with Andy Hall
# with Nick Forster

Saturday, December 3:

And just like that, day three was here as quickly as night one ended. I woke up in my typical “seize the day because it’s the last night of the run” mood, but ended out taking a lot of dabs and talking with a buddy about the previous two nights instead. Less of a seizure that I had expected, but the day was rolling nonetheless.

We arrived at the venue earlier than the night prior, but again to an already-packed balcony. After both agreeing that we weren’t too stoked with where we were on the floor the night before, we decided to post up somewhere in the balcony and progressively move inwards until we were where we wanted to be. Survival of the fittest.

Austin, Texas’s Wood & Wire opened up night three and played perhaps the best opening set of the weekend. They appear to be traditional Bluegrass at first glance, but possess many progressive qualities as well as exceptional talent at all four instruments. Formed just six years ago, I suggest keeping an eye on this band as they have both the songwriting talent and instrumental ability to become a force amongst string bands for the foreseeable future. Their songs “Mexico” and “Dancin’ On My Grave” were my favorites from the set and are a good place to begin checking the band out if you’re unfamiliar with them.

Still flying high from a great opening set, I about flew through the roof when Greensky opened with their debut of Phish’s “Chalkdust Torture.” Beck, once a Phish tour kid himself, wore a mock Donald Trump hat with the words “MAKE PHISH EVIL AGAIN” as he got to do just that during his chance at being Trey Anadobro.

“Miss September,” a Hoffman tune off of the new album came next and has proven itself as a fun live song even without much variation from the album version. “Crying Holy Unto The Lord” followed and completed the holy trifecta that began with “Jesus On The Mainline” Thursday and continued with “Catch Me A Jesus” on Friday.

“Blood Sucking F(r)iends” another sarcastic Bruzza tune was next and led into a mesmerizing seventeen-minute “All Four” that dropped jaws, shed tears, and bumped geese. Every member gets a chance to shine on this jam, but it’s typically Bont’s banjo and Hoffman’s mandolin that push this song past killer jam into a spiritual experience. As I’ve said in a past review, if I had the choice I would gladly roam around some type of Greensky Bluegrass purgatory, lost inside of an “All Four” jam for the rest of eternity.

The pace was sped back up for “A Letter To Seymour” that led directly into another tearjerker, this time the Hoffman song “In Control.” Afterwards, the band broke into a reggae groove that led many to believe “For Sure Uh Huh” was coming, but once Hoffman began speaking over the chords, it became apparent what song was coming.

“Dear Max… Spirit like racecar… Pace like dragon… I am an engineer,” Hoffman joked over the introduction in reference to Greensky superfan Max Berde’s birthday. “It’s a Max, not a hatchet,” he hinted one more time before breaking into Bob Marley’s “Small Axe” which with a birthday banner and confetti explosion was a full-blown birthday party inside of a concert. Luckily Berde has a commendable taste in music and his birthday song was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone in attendance.

Closing out the first set was “Run Or Die.” An instant favorite from the first time I heard the new album, I’ve been anxious to hear this one live ever since and it blew past all of my expectations. This song already seems to be one of their heaviest and hardest hitting jams. Abrasive is really the only word I can think of to describe it. Led mostly by Beck’s dobro, it’s a good example of the direction that their live show is heading. Very aggressive, in your face, and heavily amplified. These qualities have been apparent in Greensky Bluegrass shows for years, but their live sound continues to get bigger as they grow in popularity.

The fairly rare and rather unique “Just Listening” opened the second set and led into what was honestly one of the best versions of “Leap Year” I’ve ever seen. Tight and aggressive, this jam set the tone for what became the best set of the weekend. After an extended break to let the roars of post-jam rowdiness die down, the band invited Dave Carroll and Dave Simonett of Trampled By Turtles onto the stage and suddenly there were three Daves.

The Daves stayed out for two songs, the first of which being the goofy and nonsensical, yet somehow literal “For Sure Uh Huh” and the second being Trampled’s “Victory,” a surprise of what I’ll exaggerate to call epic proportions for those in the audience familiar with Trampled By Turtles.

A reworked version of “Old Barns,” brilliantly called “New Barns,” was next. The two versions are very similar with the most obvious difference being the tempo at which the song is played. During a long pause after the song, Beck let it be known that they were “trying to figure out what to play,” hinting at a setlist free-for-all for the remainder of the show.

Their first choice was solid to say the least, sandwiching “Reuben’s Train” inside of the Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care.” The Wilburys’ cover has become one of my favorites of theirs and always comes with a hefty mid-section. This time it expanded even further to include “Reuben’s Train” and an abnormally heavy jam led by Beck’s dobro and accented by lighting designer extraordinaire Andrew Lincoln’s unique use of a disco ball on the stage floor.

Lincoln does not get enough credit for his work with Greensky. Having recently seen a lot of the more popular LD’s in the jam scene (Phish’s Chris Kuroda, STS9’s Saxton Waller, Umphrey’s McGee’s Jefferson Waful, etc.), I feel confident saying that he is both talented and innovative enough to eventually be mentioned alongside those names.

After the wonderful chaos of “Handle With Care” had subsided, the band gave fans one final chance to catch their breath before the weekend ended, with the bouncey Joshua Davis tune “Dustbowl Overtures.” “Hold On” followed and kicked off my single favorite segment in Greensky’s repertoire, a tasty little nugget I like to call a “tarp sammy.”

This set-closing sandwich was made up of a multi-layered Pink Floyd filling, “Tarpology” > “One Slip” > “Tarpology” > “One Slip” > “Tarpology.” The “Tarpology” was just how I like it, happy and prancey to begin with, eventually bringing you to a twangy dance-off with the devil before stopping you in your tracks for “One Slip,” which sends you back down the rabbit hole only to bring you back again for one final slip and fall, this time deeper than the last.

The encore began with the lead single off of the new album, “Past My Prime.” The Daves were then invited back onto the stage for the last song of the weekend, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” and after a few goodbyes, I left with a smile you couldn’t wipe off my face.

As often as I see this band (and it’s become a lot), I always find myself yearning for the next run as soon as one ends. They bring it night after night and as I mentioned earlier, they seem to thoroughly enjoy the pressure of having to top themselves. They take pride in their work, as any Midwesterner should. They punch the clock and give it their all just like those in the Michigan factories they grew up around. But make no mistake about it, these guys are rock stars.

Set One: Chalkdust Torture, Miss September, Crying Holy Unto The Lord, Blood Sucking F(r)iends, All Four, A Letter To Seymour > In Control, Small Axe, Run Or Die

Set Two: Just Listening, Leap Year, For Sure Uh Huh*, Victory*, New Barns, Handle With Care > Reuben’s Train > Handle With Care, Dustbowl Overtures, Hold On > Tarpology > One Slip > Tarpology > One Slip > Tarpology

Encore: Past My Prime, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You*

* with Dave Carroll and Dave Simonett

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

MusicMarauders Spotify Playlist - Volume Seven 12.14.16

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

JJ Grey & Mofro, Kyle Hollingsworth Band & Bill Nershi 12.3.16 (Photos)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Jerry Joseph 12.8.16 (Photos)

PREVIEW: Yonder Mountain String Band 12.30 & 12.31.16

Boulder Theater
Boulder, CO

Ring in the new year December 30 & 31 at Boulder Theater in Boulder, CO for two nights of Yonder Mountain String Band! Join one of Colorado's own as they return to the Front Range for these two very special evenings! Head over to MusicMarauders' Facebook page to enter our contest for a pair of guestlist spots for each night as well as a meet and greet with the band!

Purchase Tickets:

For nearly 18 years, Yonder Mountain String Band has redefined bluegrass music, expanding the traditional acoustic genre beyond its previously established boundaries by steadily pushing the envelope into the realms of rock n’ roll and improvisation. YMSB has always played music of their own design, in the process attracting a devout coterie of fans that often resembles a tight knit family on an epic musical journey as Yonder traverses the country with an ever-rigorous tour schedule. Yonder is a quintessential ensemble honing its craft night after night on the road, and the fans are there to experience it in real time. The result is music that doesn’t stand still, it’s always progressing and breaking unprecedented ground.

With their latest album, Black Sheep (scheduled for national release on their own Frog Pad Records at Telluride Bluegrass Festival on June 16, 2015), Yonder Mountain String Band — Adam Aijala (guitar, vocals), Dave Johnston (banjo, vocals), Ben Kaufmann (bass, vocals), Allie Kral (violin, vocals), and Jacob Jolliff (mandolin, vocals) — begins a new era. The first YMSB release produced by the band itself, Black Sheep is, by any measure, a triumph, perhaps the most mesmeric of their career. The result, says Kaufmann, is that, “This record sounds more like Yonder than any record we’ve ever done. I’m hoping that when people are finished listening to it, they’ll just hit play and listen to it again.”

Black Sheep marks the first time in Yonder’s history that they’re actually utilizing, throughout an entire record, the conventional five-piece instrumental arsenal of bluegrass introduced in the 1940s: guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and bass. With the exception of the album’s sole cover tune, “Ever Fallen In Love,” originally by the late ’70s British punk-rock band the Buzzcocks, each of the album’s new tracks were written by the YMSB members during the past couple of years. Three of the new songs — “Annalee,” “Landfall” and the title track — have already been road-tested on tour; others will be added to the band’s live repertoire following the album’s release. The majority of Black Sheep was recorded at Coupe Studios in Boulder, Colorado, with Adam handling much of the engineering at his home studio and while on the road; the first time a band member has taken on that task.

Even on first listen, it becomes instantaneously apparent that Black Sheep is the work of a new Yonder Mountain String Band, one with a strong commitment to re-exhibiting itself and broadening its parameters following the departure of a founding member. While it’s immediately recognizable as YMSB music, there’s undeniably a raw aesthetic to the studio tracks — a sense of daring is embedded in both the instrumental interaction between these five singular players and in the lyrical content of each song.

Yonder has its roots in the year 1998, when the original quartet came together in Colorado. Through steadfast gigging in all manner of venues from small clubs to massive outdoor festivals, Yonder Mountain String Band quickly built a robust fanbase while continually experimenting to define its sound. Some of the most fervent audiences were at jam band shows and festivals, where fans took readily to YMSB’s potent mix of the traditional bluegrass of Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers and Doc Watson and the improvisational sensibilities of the Grateful Dead and Phish. Also deeply ingrained in the band, albeit more subtly, was a fierce love for punk, which provided the members with seminal influences while they were growing up. “We didn’t even hear bluegrass until our 20s,” says Aijala. “Falling in love with the sound of bluegrass instruments, while also having all of these outside influences that had nothing to do with bluegrass — well, what comes out isn’t what we envisioned.”

With the band’s 17th anniversary coming this summer, and an extensive tour schedule running throughout the year, a revitalized Yonder Mountain takes delight in the fact that they are still reaching new fans while simultaneously retaining the characteristics that brought their greater community together in the first place. The loss of one member and the subsequent invitation for some of today’s top pickers to help shape their evolving sound brings intriguing opportunities to the table; ones that set YMSB on its new path. Black Sheep is a bold statement, meant to passionately get fans up on their feet and ecstatically dancing, but it’s also about embracing the moment. Essential changes are a healthy step in keeping the music alive and well.

“We’ve been growing over the years and I feel like we really don’t have any limitations,” says Aijala. “It doesn’t feel like work when you get to hang out with people that you care about and play music.”

Adds Kaufmann, “It’s not just bluegrass — it’s progressive. Everything Yonder has ever tried to do, we’re doing in this record. It’s gonna take some time for fans to get acquainted with the new Yonder. When you make a big change like we did, it’s a huge thing. But the band is a force, and the album is such a perfect example of our new direction.”

Says Johnston in conclusion, “Yonder Mountain String Band is as durable as bluegrass itself. It changes and morphs and has an open-endedness that makes anything possible.”

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Particle & Kung Fu 12.3.16 (Photos)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Blueground Undergrass 12.3.16 (Photos)

Particle & Kung Fu 12.2.16 (Photos)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Moon Taxi, Joey Porter's Shady Business, Maddy O'Neal 12.2.16 (Photos)

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom & Other Side
Denver, CO

Photos By Doug Fondriest Photography

View Doug's Full Photo Gallery Here!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe feat. Jimmy Herring 12.1.16

New Mountain AVL
Asheville, NC

Words By Taylor Hall
Photos By J. Scott Shrader Photography

There was a lot of excitement around the Southeast when news broke that Widespread Panic's guitarist Jimmy Herring would be joining Karl on a four night run. Alongside Karl and Jimmy, the band consists of Alan Evans(Soulive), Chris Stillwell(Greyboy Allstars), DJ Williams(DJ Williams Project), David Veith(Crush Effects), Chris Littlefield, and Seth Freeman.

The evening opened with a local Jazz Funk band called The Digs, an instrumental band with catchy melodies and intelligent solos. Their progressive approach to Jazz and Funk grooves is reminiscent to that of Steely Dan and Ernest Ranglin. They were a welcomed treat to open up the dance floor for the night.

Karl Densons' Tiny Universe took the stage shortly after the digs finished, and showed off their unique brand of 60's Soul and Funk. The energy that exerts off of Karl is contagious, and at sixty years old, he doesn't look to be slowing down. The band is effortlessly smooth with their delivery and they wowed the crowd with temption-esque dance moves.

The band set themselves up for success by choosing a setlist that comprised of many well known covers that all ages could enjoy. Essentially, you have a rhythm guitarist and two lead guitarist interchanging solos on the cuff. This led to some mesmerizing guitar work, and Seth Freeman was not shy to challenge Jimmy lick for lick, with his rootsy slide approach.

The highlight of the show was of course Karl Denson. Karl is an incredible singer and such a good listener, that for parts of the show, he would simply pick up a percussion instrument and let the music build around him until he saw it fit to add a horn solo. The bands rendition of 'Some Skunk Funk' was lights out and really showcased Karl's saxophone prowess. Overall, this show had all the bells and whistles you would come to expect from musicians of this class. You can still catch Karl on a slew of dates before the year's end that include the Midwest, Florida and the West Coast.

Setlist: Power Soul, Boogaloo, Down, Down, Down, The Clap, Just Got Paid, Come Dancing, Have You Seen Him, When I Get Home, Some Skunk Funk, Young Americans, Millvale, Showbiz Kidz, Monkstrap, Satisfied Encore: NYC

Billy Strings 12.2.16 (Photos)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

MusicMarauders Spotify Playlist - Volume Six 12.7.16

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mike Gordon 12.1.16 (Photos)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cabinet & Horseshoes and Hand Grenades 11.18 & 11.19.16

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

Friday, November 18:

The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

As a transplant to Colorado, I enjoy many things mountain, but I also have a soft spot for the finer points of my home state, Pennsylvania. One of those fine PA products is Cabinet, a Bluegrass septet who's songs are every bit as relatable as they are precise. I have seen them at backyard parties and on stage at some of the country's most celebrated festivals. No matter the venue, they're always professional, energetic, and unique.

For their current tour, the band was paired with Wisconsin pickers, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. I had no expectations going in, but immediately found myself marveling as they gathered around a single mic (donning a grenade), each stepping up in time to wow the foothill venue. The singer rotated as often as the soloist, and they appeared to be having more fun than Mike Pence has ever had in his life. Particularly guitarist, Adam Greuel, who's smile was infectious and ever-present. Adam's vocals sounded effortless, neighborly, and poised. Russell Pedersen provided a lot of impressive vocal harmony in addition to his banjo mojo. Sam Odin slapped an upright bass like it had done something to deserve it. And fiddle player, Collin Mettelka, was the lighter fluid that set the group on fire. It didn't hurt that Jake Jolliff of YMSB sat in for a chunk of their set. As if their pickin' skills didn't impress enough, they ended their set with an a capella ditty that was blistering in speed, intricacy, and talent.

Pappy took the stage and picked up his banjo to start things off on his own. Shortly after he got things moving, he was joined, one at a time, by the rest of the Cabinet crew. For their first trip to Boulder, I was impressed with their draw to the Hill's famous Fox Theatre. A sizable crowd enthusiastically hooted and hollered for what was quickly moving out of the Bluegrass box. Founded in their traditional sound, the band seemed to be striving for a more inclusive style. The new addition of a second drummer, Josh Karis, kicked a Rock-and-Roll attitude into the rhythm, and the band responded with souped up tone, distortion, and adventuresome playing. Karis and Jami Novak locked into a rhythmic groove and kept the engine chugging. JP's vocals were ethereal at times and added to the Appalachian hypnosis. Mickey's guitar playing was articulate, understated, and dynamic on their original work as well as the covers they played. Dylan Skursky's bass playing was organic and adaptable. He seemed to glide along the surface gradually and structurally moving the band from sound to sound. But it was Pappy and fiddle-demolishing Todd Kopec who spent most of the evening raining fire. Todd's fiddle hung on for dear life as he exploded in colorful fits of melodic fury. Pappy's fret work was slick, natural, and rich. On the whole, the band used dynamic alternatives to make different sections pop. These moments spoke to the talent and artistic maturity they've developed.

For the encore, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades joined Cabinet on stage for Little Feat's, "Willin'." The vibe turned to that of a camp fire sing-along with friends, and the camaraderie that existed between the members was obvious, and the affection bled onto the floor. I left the theatre happy that I had another night of Cabinet so close. And close counts with Horseshoes and Hand Grenades.

Saturday November 19:

The Bluebird Theater
Denver, CO

Arriving on East Colfax, the line from The Bluebird trailed down the street towards Atomic Cowboy. This bill really brought folks out to the party. The show sold out.

As Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (HaHG) took the stage in Denver, I was excited. The prior night's show had been phenomenal. The Wisconsin-based group was giddy with excitement to play in Denver, and took no time to rip into a set of relentless jug-band magic. The harmonica playing of David C. Lynch was simply stunning. His melodic choices were ambitious and his tone was superb. He wowed me vocally and on accordion as well. This band was rich in talents. I thought (much like Cabinet) the band had paired their sound with their subject matter, singing songs of farming, fishing, and life in the country. They just seemed like a bunch of good kids who love playing music. Horseshoes undoubtedly made a fan of me over the course of the weekend.

By the time Cabinet took the stage, the theater was swelling with a boisterous crowd. Once again, Pappy led the team on to the field, and was gradually joined by the whole. With a larger crowd on their hands, Pennsylvania's Appalachian gold peeled back the amplification and romped through a much more traditional sounding set than the night before. Mickey stuck with an unfettered acoustic clarity to his tone, rarely using pedals to manipulate his timbre. While Pappy did play his electric banjo, the song choices maintained an antiquity that limited reverb and distortions.

In their natural state, one that could have practically gone unplugged, the band was left to rely on their impeccable mechanics. The set was sincere, engaging, and laden with riffs that left me laughing in wonder. Having watched them develop over years has been truly amazing. Each year their craft has a bit more polish. A few more intricacies and nuances.

While their repertoire has grown, they've found new angles to explore in their classics. "Oxygen" seemed an appropriate choice for their set in the Mile High, with it's chorus, "if you can't breathe oxygen you gotta get help." Much the same as their Boulder show, the set swirled to a head and peaked with the intro to "Heavy Rain." This tune has become one of my favorite Cabinet tunes, and they tend to really deliver on it live. The vocal harmonies were layered like Mom's lasagna, and the jamming was more adventurous than an Everest Sherpa. When the song ended, the crowd enthusiastically reacted with applause, whistles, and stomps. Watching the room throughout the show was a blast as a blend of Wisconsin and Pennsylvanian transplants became acquainted and shook their tail feathers.

As the fans turned to friends, we realized that the 2 bands had formed a bond as well. The encore featured members of both bands, and HaHG guitarist, Adam Greuel asked us to give them a moment as they exchanged gratitudes and appreciation for their new found friendships. Then they played "Ripple," "Shady Grove," and a unique take on "We Bid You Goodnight." The camaraderie, song choices, musical integrity, and sentiment made for one of the most tingly, feel-good, and happy musical moments I've ever experienced. Truly a joy to watch. I look forward to seeing both of these bands grow through the Colorado venue ladder, as neither one seems to be stopping any time soon.